Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2004
Honor Armed Forces and U.S. Workforce on Labor Day
Labor Day: Another day to honor our men and women in the Armed Forces.
Labor Day is the traditional start of autumn, a day for workers to get together with their families and celebrate another prosperous and joyful year.
Samuel Gompers, founder and longtime president of the American Federation of Labor said, "All other holidays are in a more or less degree connected with conflicts and battles of man's prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another. Labor Day...is devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race, or nation".
I agree with President Gompers, that this day is set aside to honor not one man or woman, or one group of people, but instead it honors all working men and women of our great nation.
And while, we honor the hard-working laborers of this country, let us also take the time to pray for those who are unemployed. May they find gainful employment in the near future so they can provide for their families and advance themselves in this great country.
Currently, the statewide unemployment rate is approximately 5.7%. Unfortunately, it is more than double that rate along the Border region.
This is totally unacceptable, and I implore the statewide leadership to work harder to bring jobs and businesses to the Border - as they have done in other areas of the state - with the Governor's Enterprise Fund and other state resources.
Our statewide leaders have stated on many occasions that the Border is no longer the backdoor to Texas, but the window to the future. It is time they put state money behind their public statements.
I salute Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst for appointing the International Relations and Trade Committee and asking me to chair it. The committee is presently meeting in different cities along the border to address our many needs.
But, this is a very difficult time in our country's history. It used to be that the toughest jobs didn't entail going to work every day with the distinct possibly that you would kill someone, or worse, be killed yourself.
For this reason I would like to honor a special group of men and women on Labor Day.
I first began thinking about writing my Labor Day op-ed, at the funeral of one of the Valley's fallen war heroes. This hero was Sgt. Juan Calderon, Jr., a young man from Welasco who had been killed a week earlier in Iraq. I thought to myself that we need to honor our fallen heroes like Sgt. Calderon and the thousands of other young men and women who have died performing the ultimate job on more than just Memorial Day, Veterans Day or the Fourth of July.
We should take the time to honor our armed forces every day--because they make the ultimate sacrifice for us. So, I decided to dedicate this year's Labor Day article to the men and women who are in foreign countries fighting for our right to work at any job we decide to do here in America.
Sgt. Calderon has left a mark on many South Texans, including myself. I visited with his family, particularly his father, and they shared so many wonderful stories about this outstanding young man. All he wanted to do was to work hard and make a better life for his father, his young bride and their unborn child. How tragic that he will never have the opportunity to hold his son.
But, may Sgt. Calderon rest in peace knowing that he made his family, and this entire nation, proud of his service to our country.
Because of the sacrifices made by Sgt. Calderon we can work hard and make those dreams a reality.
I was truly moved by this young man and will work harder each day in his memory to ensure that the men and women returning from those foreign countries have every opportunity to realize their dreams of a better life for their families.
This is the way I will honor Sgt Calderon on Labor Day - and all the young men and women of our great nation who have lost their lives in protecting the American Dream.
I challenge all South Texans to do the same. We must provide educational opportunities, quality healthcare and affordable housing to all our citizens.
These are the main ingredients to attract businesses and jobs to our region of the state.
I salute the hard working, dedicated men and women of South Texas, and I am committed to helping those who are unemployed to find meaningful jobs.
I hope all the citizens of South Texas have a safe and joyous Labor Day Weekend. I just ask that you take a moment to say a prayer of thanks for Sgt Juan Calderon, Jr. and the others who have made tremendous sacrifices, so that you and I can enjoy this day off with our families.
"Let Us Remember!"
For contact on issue, please call Stephen Rosales in Austin. As always, if you have any input or questions regarding these or other matters, please do not hesitate to contact my office in Austin at 512-463-0127, Brownsville at 956-548-0227 and Weslaco at 956-968-9927.