Washington, D.C. – As America honors our fallen heroes who have died defending our country this Memorial Day, U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced today that Congress passed a bill awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the 65th Infantry Regiment, also known as the ‘Borinqueneers,’ the only Latino-segregated active-duty unit in the U.S. Armed Forces. The bill, which the Senate passed last night and which Senators Schumer and Gillibrand co-sponsored, now heads to President Obama’s desk for his signature. The House passed similar legislation earlier this week.
The Borinqueneers made significant contributions during WWI, WWII and the Korean War. During the Korean War alone, soldiers in the 65th Infantry Regiment were awarded one Medal of Honor, 10 Distinguished Service Cross’s, 256 Silver Stars, 606 Bronze Stars and 2,771 Purple Hearts.
“At long last, the Borinqueeners are finally receiving just recognition for their bravery and sacrifice on behalf of our country,” said Senator Schumer. “Despite being placed in a segregated Latino unit, the Borinqueneers fought for the United States, and put their lives on the line for the United States, even when the U.S. did not see them as fully equal. They deserve to be recognized for their bravery, their patriotism and their faith in America’s values and way of life, and I am pleased Congress has finally recognized their contribution to our nation.”
“This honor is long overdue,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I am proud that Congress has recognized the Borinqueneers who answered a call higher than any other and upheld their motto of honor and fidelity. We pay tribute to the heroes of the 65th Infantry Regiment for their extraordinary service to our nation under challenging times and their lasting legacy for generations to come.”
“We wish to thank Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Senator Charles Schumer and all congressional members for the passage of the Congressional Gold Medal to the 65th Infantry Regiment, known as the Borinqueneers,” said Casimiro D. Rodriguez Sr. “This brave regiment, who served at a time of segregation in the Armed Services, did so with honor and distinction. This recognition is a long overdue welcome home to all the members of the ‘The Borinqueneers’ who demonstrated their dedication and love of country through their service. Now, days before Memorial Day, it is fitting to reflect on those that came before us.”
Casimiro D. Rodriguez Sr. is a member of the National Borinqueneers Congressional Gold Medal Alliance & Chairman of the Hispanic Heritage Council of Western New York Inc.
The 65th Infantry Regiment “Borinqueneers” was an all-volunteer force which came about shortly after the U.S. acquisition of Puerto Rico. The Borinqueneers included an estimated 60,000 participants during WWII and 40,000 participants during the Korean War. According to the Census Bureau, today about 11 percent of soldiers currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces are Hispanic.