Puerto Rican military veterans known as the Borinqueneers are getting their own national day after Congress approved the National Defense Authorization Act during an unprecedented vote that overrode President Donald Trump’s veto of the sweeping military policy bill.
“With the vote of the U.S. Senate to override the veto of the President to the National Defense Authorization Act, our legislation is already Law to designate April 13 as National Day of Borinqueneers!!!!!,” Rep. Jenniffer González, Puerto Rico’s non-voting members of Congress, tweeted in Spanish on Saturday.
The designation of April 13 as National Borinqueneers Day “recognizes the bravery, service, and sacrifice” of the 65th Infantry Regiment, a U.S. Army unit that consisted mostly of soldiers from Puerto Rico, according to the new law. They fought in both World Wars and Korea. The regiment carried the name Borinqueneers, in reference to Puerto Rico’s pre-colonial name Borinquen.
April 13 marks the day in which the members of the Borinqueneers received Congressional Gold Medal back in 2016.
“Throughout their service, they suffered persistent discrimination. For too long, their contribution to our history has been overlooked, so today, today we are setting the record straight by giving them the highest award within our possession, the Congressional Gold Medal,” said former House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., when he presented the honor to three Borinqueneers at the 2016 ceremony.
The National Borinqueneers Day also seeks to “pay tribute to the sacrifices made and adversities overcome by Puerto Rican and Hispanic members of the Armed Forces” as well as “recognize the significant contributions to United States history made by the Borinqueneers,” the law reads.
González, a Republican, led an effort in the House alongside Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Florida to commemorate the Borinqueneers with a national day. Republican Sens. Rick Scott and Marco Rubio of Florida, together with Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, also worked on a successful effort in the Senate to get a similar provision passed on July 2020.