SAN DIEGO - The idea of naming a U.S. Navy cargo ship for the late civil rights leader Cesar Chavez drew fire from U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., a war veteran.
The Lewis-and-Clark class cargo ship is under construction and Hunter, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said he was notified of the name choice by the Navy.
"This decision shows the direction the Navy is heading. Naming a ship after Cesar Chavez goes right along with other recent decisions by the Navy that appear to be more about making a political statement than upholding the Navy's history and tradition," Hunter said in a news release posted on his official Web site.
Hunter, who served in the Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan, said there are "many other" better choices if the intent is to honor the Hispanic community's contribution to the nation, including Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta, who was nominated for the Medal of Honor for his actions in Iraq.
"Peralta is one of many Hispanic war heroes -- some of whom are worthy of the same recognition," Hunter said. "And we cannot forget about John Finn, a lifelong San Diego resident who won the Medal of Honor for what he did during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Finn is another worthy candidate that was evidently overlooked in the selection process."
Chavez, who died in 1993, served two years in the Navy, which he later was reported to have called "the two worst years of my life." He found his calling organizing migrant field hands into the United Farm Workers, and President Bill Clinton awarded Chavez the Medal of Freedom the year after his death.