While there is little Americans love so much as a holiday with its opportunity to celebrate with family, fire up the BBQ and enjoy a long weekend away from the job, Memorial Day has always been different from the average holiday break.  Folks actually think about its meaning rather than desperately searching at the last minute for an acceptable card because, really, who would be the recipient?  We feel true appreciation for the very real sacrifices made on our behalf and almost religiously teach the values of our freedoms and how we came to have them to our own children. 

Memorial Day was a sacred holiday in my mother’s family ever since January 10, 1945.  On that day, her beloved and only brother, 21-year-old Howard Virgil Biggs, was shot down over Cologne, Germany while bombing a Nazi munitions facility during the waning days of WWII.  U.S. Army Technical Sergeant Biggs was a radio operator (how apropos that my uncle was also a communicator) on a B-17 called the Sweet Lorraine.  His 305 Bombardier (Heavy) Squadron was nicknamed “Can Do” because they did.  Right up until the terrorist Nazis turned the might of their anti-aircraft weaponry full force as his plane was circling back for another strike and shot their plane out of the sky.  Several planes full of brave Americans were lost that day, including my Uncle Howard.   But hundreds of thousands of German weapons were also obliterated by American bombs and no longer threatened our Allied troops, and the war ended months later. 

My mother’s last memory with her brother was getting spoiled with new kittens.  But the conversation about his death:  She was just nine at the time — my parents were crying and heartbroken, but they told me that my big brother died so that my friends and I could grow up in a free country and be free from tyranny. 

So today, we are all blessed to live in a country where we have the freedom to live, the freedom to speak and the freedom to prosper. We know these freedoms are not free. Since the Declaration of Independence was crafted and signed, Americans have been fighting to earn our freedoms and to defend them. And so many soldiers have sacrificed their lives for this cause. On Memorial Day, we honor the Americans who fought and died for our freedoms. And those who will continue to do so.

This sacrifice is familiar to the U.S. Sugar family. Many of our team members are veterans, including our President and CEO, Bob Buker.

From 1973 to 1979, Buker served as an officer in the U.S. Army, rising to the rank of Captain. He was a pilot in command of a platoon of an attack helicopter company. This seemed natural because Buker comes from a military family as his father served as a physician in the Army and took him around the world before settling back in the United States.

Today, veterans serve in a variety of positions throughout the company. From farmers to engineers to leadership roles, American veterans find great career opportunities at U.S. Sugar. We are proud to recruit American veterans and give preference to veterans in our hiring process.

Not only do we recruit and hire veterans to be a part of the U.S. Sugar family, but we are proud to support military and veteran organizations throughout Florida and the U.S. 

This Memorial Day, the people of U.S. Sugar recognize and honor the sacrifice of so many for our freedom.  Thank you, Uncle Howard and all those brave and wonderful men and women just like you who died to give us the freedoms we celebrate today.  God Bless. 

Judy Clayton Sanchez

 


Judy Clayton Sanchez
Senior Director, Corporate Communications & Public Affairs

Ms. Sanchez is responsible for U. S. Sugar’s media, social media and public relations activities, and its public education/information programs. In addition, she coordinates all external and internal communications functions, acts as corporate spokesman and assists with the company’s public affairs and community relations efforts. As spokesman, Sanchez has conducted thousands of interviews, presentations, speeches and debates as well as television and radio appearances focused on U.S. Sugar’s role in agricultural, trade and environmental issues.

Sanchez is extremely knowledgeable on issues of importance to U. S. and Florida agriculture in general and Florida’s sugar industry in particular.  As part of U.S. Sugar’s Public Affairs team, she is well-versed on trade, regulatory and environmental issues.  Sanchez is currently serving her third term on the Agriculture Technical Advisory Committee for Trade (ATAC) in Sweeteners and Sweetener Products.  She was re-appointed by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and U. S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer through June, 2023.  Sanchez was first appointed by US Department of Agriculture Commissioner Tom Vilsack and US Trade Representative Ron Kirk to the ATAC on Sweeteners and served in this capacity from 2011-2015.  This group advises both USDA and USTR on trade negotiations in regard to sugar and sweeteners. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce, Western Palm Beach County Farm Bureau, and the Agriculture Communicators of Florida.   Sanchez is a former member of the South Florida Water Management District Water Resources Advisory Commission (WRAC) and its subcommittee on Lake Okeechobee and the Lake Okeechobee Regional Economic (LORE) Alliance of Palm Beach County.   

Sanchez attended the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communication and received a B.A. in Communications from Florida Atlantic University. She grew up in the heart of Florida’s sugarcane industry and has spent most of her life in and around sugarcane farming in Florida and Louisiana.   She and her husband Julio reside in Belle Glade, Florida and have two grown sons and two young grandsons.

U.S. Sugar is an American farming company, producing food for American families since 1931.  With state-of-the-art technology, U.S. Sugar practices the most sustainable, progressive and efficient farming techniques available in the world.  Full, vertical integration of its farming, hi-tech processing and packaging operations makes U.S. Sugar competitive while meeting the highest standards for worker safety, food quality and environmental protection.  With its headquarters in Clewiston, Florida, the Company farms over 230,000 acres of sugarcane, citrus, sweet corn, green beans and other fresh vegetables.  The company also owns/operates both an internal railroad and an industrial short-line railroad.  U.S. Sugar provides approximately 2500 jobs in the local communities.

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