Menendez Honors Puerto Rico’s Borinqueeners at Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony

Menendez Honors Puerto Rico’s Borinqueeners at Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today participated in a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol to bestow the Congressional Gold Medal to the 65th Infantry Regiment of Puerto Rico, known as the Borinqueneers. As the leading voice for Puerto Rico issues in the Senate and the only Latino in the Democratic Caucus, Menendez was an original co-sponsor of the legislation recognizing the Borinqueneers, the only segregated all-Hispanic unit of the U.S. Army, for their military service, devotion to duty, and acts of valor in the face of adversity.

“Our nation owes each of the Borinqueneers a great debt of gratitude and the Congressional Gold Medal is the least we can do to honor their valiant service, triumphs and sacrifices. Their heroic conduct in the face of overwhelming odds saved the lives of many comrades, advanced American military operations, and broke racial barriers that had long constrained minorities in our military ranks,” said Sen. Menendez. “These brave patriots embody the very best of our nation, and I’m very proud to have worked with my colleagues on legislation to award this well-deserved recognition for their service.”

“As evidenced by the Borinqueneers, the people of Puerto Rico have been there for us from the infancy of our nation, and now, as the future of the 3.5 million American citizens residing in the island depends on Congressional action to help Puerto Rico fix its financial crisis, we need to be there for them. Let the story of these American heroes remind us that we have a special, historic, unshakeable connection with Puerto Rico and now is the time to strengthen that bond.”

The Congressional Gold Medal has been commissioned by Congress since the American Revolution and is considered its highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievement and contribution by individuals or institutions. At the ceremony, Sen. Menendez joined Congressional leaders, and other prime sponsors of the legislation: Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Ct.), Marco Rubio (R-Fl.), Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi (D-P.R.) and Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fl.).

The 65th Infantry Regiment ("Borinqueneers") was the only Hispanic Segregated Unit -composed almost entirely of soldiers from the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico- to play a prominent role in three wars. The unit's toughness, courage, and loyalty earned the admiration of many who had previously harbored reservations about Puerto Rican soldiers based on stereotypes. Over the span of World War I, World War II, and the Korean War, the regiment saw extensive combat. By the time fighting came to a close in Korea, soldiers in the 65th Infantry Regiment had earned 10 Distinguished Service Crosses, about 250 Silver Stars, over 600 Bronze Stars, and nearly 3,000 Purple Hearts.