Today, in every corner of the country, Americans are celebrating Memorial Day with parties and cookouts, parades and rallies. But today, as a veteran, I could not be more proud to celebrate Memorial Day with my SEIU brothers and sisters at our union's international convention in Denver. I am just one of the thousands of SEIU members who have proudly served this country in the armed forces.
I started working at 16, cleaning buildings in Washington, DC. It wasn't long after I started cleaning that I started organizing. In fact, by the time I graduated from high school I had organized my shop and was a proud member of what is now SEIU 32BJ. After high school, I saw joining the Navy as not just an opportunity to serve my country but also as an opportunity to one day go to college.
As an immigrant, I take particular pride in my military service. I was thankful for the opportunity I found in America, and thankful for the opportunity to serve.
Today, as I celebrate Memorial Day, I am not just proud to be a veteran, I am proud that as a union organizer and a leader, I can help working people in this country exercise the very rights that I fought to defend.