Obama calls on Americans to fulfill Cesar Chavez' promise

President Barack Obama, accompanied by Cesar Chavez' widow, Helen F. Chavez, places a special "Cesar Chavez" red rose at the gravesite where Cesar E. Chavez was laid to rest in 1993, as he tours the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument Memorial Garden, Monday, Oct. 8, 2012, in Keene, Calif. AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

President Obama, accompanied by Cesar Chavez' widow, Helen F. Chavez, places a special "Cesar Chavez" red rose at the gravesite where Cesar E. Chavez was laid to rest in 1993, as he tours the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument Memorial Garden, Monday, Oct. 8, 2012, in Keene, Calif.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

In remarks designating the Cesar Chavez National Monument in Keene, California, President Obama on Monday honored the memory of the late labor icon and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, praising his longtime activism on behalf of farm workers and calling on Americans to "fulfill [his] promise."

Mr. Obama touched on familiar themes of equal opportunity and economic hardship throughout his remarks, but largely steered clear of politics. He spoke with Chavez's widow and laid a rose at the newly-minted monument prior to his speech.

"We are making progress," the president told the crowd, which interrupted him at one point with a chant of "Four more years!" "Our businesses are creating more jobs. More Americans are getting back to work. And even though we have a difficult road ahead, I know we can keep moving forward together."

He continued: "I know it because Cesar Chavez himself worked for 20 years as an organizer without a single major victory... but he refused to give up. He refused to scale back his dreams. He just kept fasting and marching and speaking out, confident that his day would come. And when it finally did, he still wasn't satisfied."

The president urged the crowd not only to honor Chavez's memory but to "live up to his example" as well.

"Every time somebody's son or daughter comes and learns about the history of this movement, I want them to know that our journey is never over -- our work is never done," he said. "More than anything that's what I hope our children and grandchildren will take away from this place."

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