Congress has passed a resolution setting aside April 13, 2020, as National Borinqueneers Day. Senators Rick Scott, Marco Rubio, and Bob Menéndez joined Congressional Reps.Jenniffer González-Colón and Stephanie Murphy in bringing this resolution to Congress.
The resolution is part of H.R. 6395, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021, which passed this week.
The 65th Infantry Regiment of the United States Army, fondly known as the Borinqueneers, were a regiment made up of Puerto Rican men who served together in Puerto Rico until they were organized as part of the Army in 1908. They served in the Panama Canal Zone in World War I, and were designated as the 65th Infantry in 1920.
In World War II, they served in both Europe and Africa, and were recognized with a Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Stars, two Bronze Stars, and 90 Purple Hearts among them.
They served in the Korean War, where they adopted their nickname, the Borinqueneers. In this conflict they received two Presidential Unit Citations (Army and Navy), two Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citations, a Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army), a Navy Unit Commendation, and the Bravery Gold Medal of Greece. Individual members of the regiment also collected a Medal of Honor, nine Distinguished Service Crosses, more than 250 Silver Stars, more than 600 Bronze Stars, and more than 2,700 Purple Hearts among them.
On April 13, 2016, Congress awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to the Borinqueneers.
The resolution names April 13th, the date on which the Borinqueneers received their Congressional Gold Medal, as a special day honoring this regiment. It also “expresses deep gratitude for the contributions to the Armed Forces that have been made by hundreds of thousands of patriotic United States citizens from Puerto Rico.”
Read the full text of the resolution.
“As the only representative of Puerto Rico in this Congress,” said Rep. Gonzalez-Colon, “this commemoration is very special to me. Our 65th Infantry, our ‘Borinqueneers’, gave the example of the values and gallantry of the Puerto Rican soldier serving in the United States Army, as the motto of their insignia reads, with honor and fidelity. In them, Puerto Rico contributed the best of itself to defend our nation, and those of them who are still among us are a living treasure to whom the generations that have followed owe all possible respect. These Puerto Ricans, then young, responded to the call and fought bravely alongside their fellow Americans, paying the price in blood and lives that freedom demands, so today it is a duty of justice to remember their history and their brilliant service record.”
Senator Rick Scott said, “I’m honored to join my colleagues today to honor the brave United States citizens from Puerto Rico that courageously fought for decades to defend our country and designate April 13th as National Borinqueneers Day. History will forever pay tribute to the sacrifices these brave individuals and their families made to defend our freedom.”
Senator Murphy concurred, saying, “Puerto Rico has a rich and remarkable military history, which is a source of great pride for those with Puerto Rican roots. I am proud to co-lead this bipartisan resolution to designate April 13 as ‘National Borinqueneers Day’… By once again honoring these Borinqueneers, who were already deserving of the Congressional Gold Medal, Congress pays tribute to all the men and women of Puerto Rico who have given their service and sacrifice in the United States Armed Forces.”
González-Colón and Murphy offered an amendment to the bill asking for a feasibility study for the idea of extending TRICARE-Prime, a health care program for military retirees, to Puerto Rico. This program is available in nearly every state, but not in Puerto Rico.
“It is completely unacceptable that TRICARE Prime is not available to military retirees in Puerto Rico and the other territories,” said Murphy. “If you served 20 or more years in the U.S. military and then retire in Puerto Rico, you should have access to the same health services as are available to your fellow veterans living in Florida or any state. This is a moral issue, and we won’t rest until its fixed.”