Congressman Higgins Joins WNY Veterans for a National Borinqueneers Day Event
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) joined members of the Hispanic Heritage Council of WNY, members of the Hispanic American Veterans Memorial Monument Committee, veterans from the Gabriel A. Rodriguez American Legion Post 1928 and local leaders for a ceremony marking National Borinqueneers Day at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park.
During remarks at the event, Congressman Higgins said, “The Borinqueneers sacrificed everything for a country that had not yet embraced the rights of Hispanic Americans, a shame for our country but a show of incredible loyalty and selfless service by those who served. The passage of federal legislation awarding the 65th Regiment with the Congressional Gold Medal was made possible thanks to the advocacy of the Hispanic Heritage Council of Western New York.”
The Borinqueneer division of the United States Army was born shortly after U.S. acquisition of Puerto Rico and rededicated as the 65th Infantry Regiment. The division, comprised of brave Hispanic American soldiers, remained segregated throughout World War I, World War II and most of the Korean War, even after President Truman ordered the desegregation of the armed forces.
Congressman Higgins championed legislation awarding a Congressional Gold Medal to the Borinqueneers, a Puerto Rican unit within the United States Army that served as a segregated infantry regiment during World War I, World War II and the Korean War. Higgins was joined by members of the Hispanic Heritage Council of WNY for a special ceremony in Washington, D.C. presenting the Congressional Gold Medal to the Borinqueneers on April 13, 2016 after the bill was signed into law.
QThe National Defense Act approved by Congress last year included language supporting the establishment of National Borinqueneers Day that “recognizes the bravery, service, and sacrifice of the Puerto Rican soldiers of the 65th Infantry Regiment.” The legislation also urged “individuals and communities across the US to participate in activities to celebrate the distinguished service of the veterans who served in the 65th Infantry Regiment, known at the Borinqueneers.” April 13th was selected as National Borinqueneers Day because it marks the anniversary of the Washington, D.C. ceremony presenting the Gold Medals to members of the 65th Infantry Regiment.
The soldiers of the 65th Regiment were highly decorated earning one Medal of Honor, nine Distinguished Service Crosses, 250 Silver Stars, over 600 Bronze Stars, and more than 2,700 Purple Hearts.