Nation’s Service-Employment-Redevelopment Network Pays Tribute to the Men and Women Whose Sacrifice Protects our Freedoms and Our Future
SER National today issued the following statement to remember our nation’s fallen troops whose valor is remembered with respect and gratitude on Memorial Day throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.
“Memorial Day is a bittersweet moment for millions of Americans when we honor with fondness and sadness our loved ones and all brave American warriors who have given their lives in sacrifice during combat,” says Ignacio Salazar, SER National Chief Executive Officer. “It is fitting that this solemn tribute happens on the last Monday in May when most flowers across America are in their glorious bloom. Their bright assorted colors remind us that our democracy flourishes and this republic is replenished, in large measure, because of the spirit of those selfless individuals in military uniform who stepped up and said, ‘Here I am, send me.’
In America, Memorial Day is a time we spend with our families, often visiting and adorning with flags and flowers the graves of our soldiers lost in war and whose portraits of them in uniform we proudly and prominently display as a treasured keepsake in our homes. We remember our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, moms and dads who left for battlefields in faraway places and did not return. Similarly, we can only hope and pray that the people in those foreign lands, where many of our brave were laid to rest during WWI and WWII among a sea of hallowed graves, continue to honor the price America paid to help defend their right to live free of tyranny.
Important too is appreciating the history of Memorial Day, which was initially known as Decoration Day. This was a reference to the acknowledgment and honor, often with medals, placed on a fallen comrade for exceptional bravery during combat. The origin of the annual Memorial Day tribute has its roots in the years shortly after the American Civil War, which remains, until the present, the single costliest conflict in our history. More than 620,000 Union and Confederate soldiers were killed, more than in all other wars American soldiers have fought combined. This unfathomable casualty count remains a sober reminder of the heavy toll paid by our country when divided among ourselves.
May we also pay special tribute on this Memorial Day to the women soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice. Nearly 700 females have been killed in combat-related incidents since WWII. Almost 200 of those have died due to enemy gunfire or weapons, the majority in Iraq and Afghanistan. Women have performed in battle to the absolute highest level of patriotism and selflessness alongside their male counterparts. They, too, deserve our enduring and heartfelt gratitude. May we celebrate Memorial Day with our families and pause to thank all those who made it possible for our nation to continue being the land of the free and the home of the brave!”
Nation’s Service-Employment-Redevelopment Network Says Latest Data Reflects Latinos Are America’s Economic Engine Now and for the Future
SER National today issued the following statement in observance of Cinco de Mayo, which commemorates the battle at Puebla in 1861. The historic confrontation was between highly trained and abundantly equipped elite French soldiers and a far smaller ragtag Mexican army formed from civilians-turned-defenders who had old, creaky muskets and hand tools as their only weapons. Yet, in what historians describe as one of the most courageous battles of a hugely outnumbered force, the Mexicans endured a brutal series of assaults over an entire day of heavy casualties. Yet, as evening fell, the flag of the eagle perched atop cactus, a serpent captured in its beak, fluttered high atop La Fortaleza de Guadalupe, the Fort of Guadalupe, while their foe lay far below defeated and in tatters. Mexico had been victorious in a battle that forever defined the resilience of its people to confront and overcome seemingly insurmountable odds and prevail. This is the lesson of Puebla.
“Cinco de Mayo affords America a wonderful opportunity to revisit the lessons taught through historical accounts about the strength of the human spirit to survive and achieve the impossible,” says Ignacio Salazar, SER National Chief Executive Officer. “Today, our nation is confronting unprecedented economic and trade challenges in modern times, and a new dynamic is emerging. The intersectionality of business, politics, and social frameworks demand more imaginative use of all our resources, and among these, Latinos play a critical role. Latinos represent nearly 20-percent of the nation’s population and the U.S. labor force. By 2060, that share will grow to almost one-third of the entire United States landscape in sheer numbers and workforce output. The trend is irreversible, and the outcome is inevitable. Latinos are the fastest growing and most resilient economic group now and into the future of our country.
Yet, that glowing forecast can only be realized through higher education and skills training opportunities in the United States. For the vast majority, college and university pathways remain elusive, as evidenced by the last data from the Postsecondary National Policy Institute (PNPI), which shows that ‘the Latino share of attained degrees decreased at every level, from associate degrees to doctoral degrees. Latinos earned 23.8% of associate degrees compared to 51.2% of white students’. We can and must do better if Latinos are to achieve the pinnacle of the American dream, whose gateway is education and high-wage, high-demand skills training opportunities.
Further, as with the battle of Puebla, Latinos’ most significant opportunity for victory today is in how we marshal our resources, in this case, continuing historic voter registration first seen in 2020. Indeed, increased participation in the civic processes of our country provides a bright ray of hope as America defines public policy, laws, and the allocation of funds for programs and initiatives vital to our training and development. May we continue to learn from history’s lessons, including the Battle of Puebla. Our enduring resilience is our ability to adapt, innovate and prepare our communities for whatever challenges the future may bring.”
Nation’s Service-Employment-Redevelopment Network Recalls a Friend Who Exemplified Loyalty, Fairness, and Deep Caring for All Communities
SER National today issued the following statement in remembrance of former Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, who died Saturday in Salt Lake City, Utah, at 88. Hatch was the longest-serving Republican member in the history of the U.S. Senate. His tenure extended 42 years, from 1977 to 2019. During his service in public office, he held numerous powerful positions, including Senate president pro tempore. He was a member of the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee. Hatch was an influential legislative figure whose counsel was respected by seven U.S. Presidents and nine Senate majority leaders. He sought the Republican nomination for president in 1999 in a bid that eventually went to George W. Bush. Both sides of the aisle regarded his leadership as one of a man of great faith, conviction, and dedication.
“I have lost a dear friend, and our nation has seen the passing of a great American,” says Ignacio Salazar, SER National Chief Executive Officer. “Those of us at SER National who had the privilege of working with Senator Hatch shall never forget his profound kindness and empathy for the plight of others. He understood the difference between partisan politics and sound public policy as he fought, at times as the lone voice, in support of important programs that benefitted millions of Americans, including Latinos.
Senator Hatch was a spiritual man who looked for and acknowledged the worthiness and value of every human being he met. I will never forget his abrazos, the embrace of friends that surpassed any words we could exchange. His genuine caring was driven by his own experience growing up in an impoverished family that lost its home during the Great Depression. His father borrowed $100 to buy a parcel of land where they built a humble house. This is where Orrin grew up, tending chickens and selling eggs before becoming the first in his family to attend college, then a lawyer before entering public office in 1976. He never forgot where he came from, which shaped his true servant heart.
Senator Hatch stood by SER National during some of the most challenging times. Thanks to his support and championing our work, we received critical funding to sustain projects that were both economically and socially vital. Also, his staff reflected the diversity of America, and his vision led him to establish the Task Force on Hispanic Affairs. Indeed, Orrin Hatch was a trailblazer, a courageous defender of truth, and stood for what is right above all. We at SER National are honored to have known him and shall strive to continue his legacy of service to America.”
Nation’s Service-Employment-Redevelopment Network Calls the Senate 53-47 Confirmation A Moment When America Can Re-Commit to Justice for All
SER Jobs for Progress National, Inc. issued the following statement on the confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. On Thursday, Judge Jackson became the first black woman confirmed to the highest court. As significant was that Vice-President Kamala Harris presided over the confirmation vote as the first black woman elected to the second-highest office in the United States.
Ignacio Salazar, SER National’s President & Chief Executive Officer
“Since our founding as a nation, America has always risen to define its greater self even through the most challenging times of political turmoil, economic upheaval, or social unrest. We have been able to prevail because most Americans believe in the set of principles in our Constitution that afford us equal rights and, with those, similar responsibilities. These values extend into every facet of our lives, including education, employment, economic advancement, and the application of justice.
On the latter, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson faced tough questioning during her Senate confirmation hearings about how she would apply the law given, inferring whether her experiences as a black woman born to parents involved in the civil rights movement might bias her judgment. She faced the pointed interrogatories with steadfast dignity and unwavering conviction of her principles. Judge Jackson replied that she would conduct herself and arrive at her conclusions ‘without fear or favor’ as evidenced by her more than 600 decisions during her judicial career.
A deeper analysis of Judge Jackson’s legal qualifications demonstrates an exemplary record with fewer than two percent of her decisions overruled, an extraordinarily low reversal rate. Moreover, as measured by rulings that withstood challenges, Judge Jackson’s performance on the federal bench surpasses that of more than half of her peers across the United States. Also, her career experience as a jurist is greater than that of four other current Justices on the Supreme Court combined when they were nominated.
All of this affirms the decision of the Senate majority, including three Republicans, and the more than 53% of Americans surveyed in a Gallup Poll. Confirming Judge Jackson to the Supreme Court represents our nation’s journey in the right direction towards ensuring that one day soon, liberty and justice for all, will be a guarantee, not simply a pledge recited since 1892 and formally adopted by the U.S. Congress in 1942. SER NATIONAL salutes Judge Jackson on her historical confirmation. We may all look forward to a greater America because of her voice and viewpoints within the chambers of the highest court in our land.”
SER Jobs for Progress National, Inc. issued the following statement on the birthday of Cesar Chavez, the Latino labor leader and civil rights advocate. He helped organize the country’s farmworkers. Chavez was born on March 31, 1927, and died on April 23, 1993. He was 66.
Ignacio Salazar, SER National’s President & Chief Executive Officer
“The power of Cesar Chavez Day is that it celebrates the lives of generations of working American men and women through the journey of one modern-day historical figure. As a man, Cesar Chavez stood not too tall, and most times, he spoke softly except when delivering his fiery admonishments to landowners in whose fields farmworkers toiled from sunrise to sundown. Yet, he ignited and led one of the most significant labor movements since our founding. He called for such simple provisions for farmworkers as clean drinking water, portable field toilets, and work breaks in the shade from the scorching sun. Cesar Chavez was every American of the untold millions, free or enslaved person, who had cleared and cared for land to feed themselves and their families since America’s earliest days. All lived by the sweat on their brow.
It is a well-known fact that Cesar never earned more than $6,000 a year for himself, and he often credited his wife Helen publicly for raising their eight children. At the same time, he traveled nine months out of every year as the leader, along with Dolores Huerta, of the National Farmworkers Association (NFWA), later becoming the United Farm Workers (UFW). Often, they relied on the simple generosity of the poorest farmworker families who opened their doors and shared their table with Cesar. At the time, farmworkers were paid 40-cents an hour, had no health benefits or pension.
Over forty years, Chavez maintained his focus on public service, and the picket lines, strike gatherings, and marches marked his path to eventual victories, albeit fleeting because civil rights, he said, must be fought for and won with every generation. An estimated 1.1 million to 1.7 million are undocumented farmworkers in the United States, and another .75 million to 1.2 million are lawful or citizen farmworkers. Eighty-three percent of them are Latino, and the vast majority are from Mexico. More than a third of all farmworkers are women. Their average hourly wage is $10.80, although many still work by the piece.
Forty-thousand people attended Cesar Chavez’s funeral and accompanied his simple, pinewood casket. Today, Cesar rests at Nuestra Señora Reina de La Paz, his beloved retreat where he walked and meditated, in the shadow of Dos Lomas above Tehachapi, California. His phrase Si Se Puede (Yes, We Can!) now resonates across the land as a battle cry of service to strive, do, and achieve, not just for ourselves but also for others. May this be our rallying cry on this Cesar Chavez Day”.