Excitement Among Local Latinos On 'Borinqueneers' Bill

borinquenners
 
Editor’s Note: This story on local reaction to the progress of the Borinqueneers bill was posted before the Senate’s surprise passage of the bill yesterday.
 
By Brian Woodman Jr.
CTLatinoNews.com
 

Connecticut Latino Veterans are praising the first critical step in their quest to present the Congressional Gold Medal to the U.S. Army 65th Regiment after Congress passed the resolution a few days ago.  The bill, labeled HR 1726  now goes to the Senate for a final vote, however for many Latinos this first historic vote signals that perhaps their long journey to get recognition for the segregated unit may successfully be coming to an end.
“As a Puerto Rican knowing what they went through, I’m overwhelmed,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Carmelo Figueroa, president of HAVOC (Hispanic Connecticut American Veterans of Connecticut), adding, “It’s about time.”
According to research, the unit endured discrimination, yet took pride in their efforts and fought valiantly in World War I and II and the Korean War.  To demonstrate their pride in their heritage, they nicknamed themselves the ‘Borinqueneers’  after Borinquen, the original name of Puerto Rico. Figueroa said there are six known Borinqueneers in Connecticut.
Dan Garcia, who is executive director of the National 65th Regimental Historical Society, also expressed excitement over the vote in Congress, the organization issued this statement.
“We are very pleased that Congressional action will take place regarding this issue.  We are also grateful that an already overwhelmed Congress is taking the time and initiative to move  this forward.  The 65th Regiment Gold Medal Alliance has done an exemplary job  tactfully moving this forward and we at the National 65th Regiment Society  applaud them, and couldn’t me more appreciative of their efforts.  Once Congress
pushes this through, the men who served with the 65th Regiment (or as we refer  to them, the “Borinqueneers”), will finally get the recognition of a grateful nation.”
Figueroa praised Connecticut for its active role in promoting efforts to gain official recognition for the regiment, which have been ongoing for about two years. “Connecticut was the first state to issue proclamations,” he said. “It’s the first state with delegates from both houses to support this.”
In the Senate, one of the sponsors of the bill introduced last year was Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut. At the time he said, “The Borinqueneers are part of a proud tradition of military service that includes the Tuskegee Airmen, the Montford Point Marines, the Navajo Code Talkers and the Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) last year in a prepared statement after he introduced a bill to award the medal to the regiment, adding that they served as a segregated unit despite former President Harry Truman’s 1948 abolition of racial segregation in the military. “Not only did the Borinqueneers valiantly serve and sacrifice for this country, they did so while enduring injustice on and off the battlefield.”
Figueroa also praised Connecticut for its active role in promoting efforts to gain official recognition for the regiment, which have been ongoing for about two years. “Connecticut was the first state to issue proclamations,” he said. “It’s the first state with delegates from both houses to support this.”
He speculated that if the bill does pass the Senate, veterans from the regiment were likely to receive the medal between September 15 and October 15 during National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Staff persons at the Library of Congress confirmed that the Senate received the resolution, which is labeled HR 1726, but have not as of press time put it on their voting calendar.
Graphic: http://www.latinoalliance.net/1/post/2012/10/the-borinqueneers-the-65th-infantry-regiment-deserves-the-congressional-gold-medal.html

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