Obama seemed to tie Chavez to his own re-election campaign, saying: "Even though we have a difficult road ahead, I know we can keep moving forward together. " Obama's 2012 campaign motto is "Forward."
Helen Chavez and son Paul Chavez were among those attending the ceremony. Dolores Huerta, co-founder with Chavez of the UFW, and current union president Arturo S. Rodriguez also were present, as were Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and other officials.
Associated Press writer Matthew Daly in Washington contributed to this report.