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Presidential Medal of Freedom - Cesar Chavez

On the 8th of August, 1994, President Clinton commemorated the achievements of Cesar Chavez when he posthumously awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The Medal of Freedom is the highest honor awarded to civilians in the U.S. It was established by President Truman to honor high levels of civilian service which occur during war time.

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy expanded the honor, also making it available for distinguished civilian service during times of peace.

The President presented the Medal of Freedom to Helen Chavez, Cesar’s widow, in a White House ceremony. This image depicts a scene from that event.

Among other things, President Clinton said the following about Chavez and his work to help migrant farm workers:

Cesar Chavez, before his death in April of last year, had become a champion of working people everywhere. Born into Depression-era poverty in Arizona in 1927, he served in the United States Navy in the Second World War and rose to become one of our greatest advocates of nonviolent change.

He was, for his own people, a Moses figure. The farm workers who labored in the fields and yearned for respect and self-sufficiency pinned their hopes on this remarkable man, who with faith and discipline, with soft-spoken humility and amazing inner strength led a very courageous life and in so doing brought dignity to the lives of so many others and provided for us inspiration for the rest of our Nation's history.

We are honored to have his wife, friend, and longtime working partner, Helen Chavez, to be with us today to receive the award.

Click on the image for a better view.


Media Credits

Image, by White House photographer, online via Wikimedia Commons.

 

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