TAMPA, Fla. — A "Patriots Gathering" was held Wednesday to honor the U.S. 65th Infantry Regiment known as the Borinqueneers as well as all American Veterans.
The Borinqueneers, mostly comprised of Puerto Ricans, was the first U.S. Infantry Battalion of Puerto Rican Volunteer Troops authorized by Congress in 1899.
Now, many Borinqueneers live in Florida. Event organizers said they wanted to honor the Borinqueneers and spread awareness when it comes to the contributions of Puerto Rican veterans in the United States.
The Borinqueneers have received several unit and individual combat awards including the highest honor, the Congressional Gold Medal.
"They have served, sacrificed and have shed blood for our democracy," Secretary of the National Puerto Rican Equality Coalition Nathaniel Morell said.
Although The Borinqueneers have received high honors, Morell said it's important to bring attention to the unequal treatment of Puerto Ricans living in the U.S. as it's been an ongoing issue for more than 100 years.
Morell emphasized that it's a civil rights issue that the government needs to act upon and correct. He said they need to continue to push for equal rights in the U.S.
“They face many obstacles including segregation, discrimination, limited civil rights, no votes for their commander in chief or their representation in congress and still today they are loyal to the United States,” Morell said.
Senator Charlie Rodriguez from Puerto Rico was the keynote speaker at the event. Hillsborough County Commissioner Harry Cohen and Tampa City Council member Luis Viera were also in attendance.
Cohen and Viera presented a proclamation in honor of the event.