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tv   Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony for the 65th Infantry Regiment  CSPAN  April 16, 2016 11:30pm-12:40am EDT

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announcer: tomorrow c-span road to the white house coverage continues in brooklyn, new york where democratic candidate senator bernie sanders of vermont. also scheduled to be there, hawaii representative, actors any devito, and justin long, and the rock band grizzly bear. live coverage begins at 4:00 p.m. eastern on seas in -- c-span. washingtonc-span's journal, live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up, phil bump talks about the nominating roles for the democratic -- democrats and republicans. then sam baker will preview the oral arguments, challenging president obama's executive action on immigration. williams on his book.
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be sure to watch c-span's "washington journal" on sunday morning. join the discussion. announcer: a congressional gold medal ceremony was held wednesday to honor the u.s. army's 65th infantry regimen known as the borinqueneers. they were the last segregated unit of the u.s. military. the ceremony was held at the u.s. capitol. it is just over an hour. >> ladies and gentlemen, the speaker of the united states house of representatives, the honorable paul ryan. [applause] speaker ryan: good afternoon. good afternoon, everybody. it's great to see you here. i want to welcome all of you to the u.s. capitol.
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we are here today to honor the 65th infantry regiment of the u.s. army. [applause] or, as we prefer to say, the borinqueneers. [cheering] isn't that cool? amen. puerto rico became a part of the united states in 1898. and soon after, congress created a special unit of puerto rican soldiers. they went on to fight for our country valiantly, in both world wars and in korea. but 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.
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[applause] i know a lot of people worked very hard to make this happen. and i just want to recognize just a few of them, the people who made this happen. first of all, commissioner peer luisi. there you are. [applause] congressman bill posey. [applause] senator blumenthal. [applause] senator rubio. [applause] i also want to thank governor padea. [applause] we would like to thank secretary murphy and secretary mcdonald for joining us, as well. [applause]
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finally, i would like to point out today that we have here with us some borinqueneers, themselves. jose colon is here with us today. [applause] manuel siverio is here with us today. [applause] and john palazzi. where is john? [applause] i would like to add that john now lives in milwaukee, wisconsin. go packers. alright, so, i won't hold things up any longer, only to say to our honorees that we are forever in your debt and this medal is long, long overdue. thank you very much and enjoy the program. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, please stand for the presentation of
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the colors by the united states army color guard, the performance of our national anthem, and the retiring of the colors. ♪ >> halt, present.
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say can you see light dawn's early bright stripes and write stars.- bright and the rocket red flare the bombs bursting in air gave truth through the night that our flag was still there that star spangled banner for the land of the free
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brave ♪ ome of the [applause] ♪
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>> ladies and gentlemen, please remain standing, as the chaplain of the united states senate, dr. barry black, gives the invocation. dr. black: listen to our prayer. we thank you for the honor and fidelity of the u.s. army's 65th infantry regiment, composed mainly of puerto rican soldiers that served with heroism and distinction, during both world wars and the korean conflict. lord, we praise you for this opportunity to acknowledge their courageous contributions to america's freedom with the
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congressional gold medal. lord, forgive us for segregating our puerto rican and latino soldiers. and for being slow to acknowledge their contributions. may this congressional gold medal ceremony for the intrepid borinqueneers remind us that all humanity is wrapped in a blanket of mutuality. and tied to a single garment of destiny. [speaking spanish] send, send heaven's richest blessings upon this ceremony as
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you hasten the day when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. we pray, in your sovereign name, amen. >> amen. >> please be seated. ladies and gentlemen, resident commissioner from puerto rico, the honorable pedro peluisi. [applause] com. peluisi: the u.s. territory of puerto rico faces enormous challenges. it has been difficult for my constituents and i to see the island we love suffer.
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it is easy to lose spirit as the good name of your home is tarnished, too often associated with the negative rather than the positive. that is why, even though the korean war ended 60 years ago, today's ceremony could not be more timely. the american soldiers from puerto rico, who formed the core of the 65th infantry regiment, remind the public of the extraordinary contributions that puerto rico has made to this country, since 1898. in times of both war and peace. the borinqueneers remind me and the 3.5 million u.s. citizens i represent why we're so proud to be puerto rican. at a time when our sense of pride has been shaken but never, ever shattered. we should draw strength and inspiration from their legacy
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and emulate their example. after all, this band of brothers overcame adversity of the most extreme sort, fighting the enemy on the front lines of the battlefield, while fighting discrimination in the barracks. these warriors may have spoken english with an accent, but their service and sacrifice were universally understood. the men of the 65th infantry regiment, many of whom are here today, but many more of whom did not live to enjoy this glorious moment, represent the human spirit, at its best. brave, tough, devoted to their duty and to each other. puerto rico has always had this nation's back in times of crisis. it takes a special kind of patriotism to fight for a country that you love, but one that does not treat you equally.
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to the borinqueneers, those who are living and those who have left us, i want to simply say, thank you. [speaking spanish] god bless the borinqueneers and the united states of america. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, united states representative from the 8th district of florida, the honorable bill posey. [applause] rep. posey: good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. distinguished guests and especially the heroes of the
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65th infantry regiment, this is truly a momentous day. one which will honor to the gallantry of this decorated unit and the valor of each of its soldiers. during the darkest days of the korean war, the 65th infantry regiment fought some of the fiercest battles, under some of the harshest conditions. and they did so as the military's last segregated unit, a true testimony to their character. it was a now famous battle of cho si nin reservoir that the -- one of the greatest withdraws from american history that the 65th infantry regiment fearlessly provided cover for the first marine division. their actions earned high praise from general douglas macarthur who said, " they are writing a brilliant record of heroism in battle, and i am proud to have them under my command.
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i wish that we could count many more like them." for its extraordinary service in the korean war, the regiment earned a medal of honor, nine distinguished service crosses, approximately 250 silver stars, over 600 bronze stars, and more than 2,700 purple hearts. today, the borinqueneers join the ranks of the most intrepid american warriors, who have received the congressional gold medal. i would like to recognize the efforts of hundreds of people in the borinqueneer community, whose dedication resulted in this worthy distinction. i would also like to acknowledge a group of exceptional students from saint luke's lutheran school in ovedo, florida. these students took it upon themselves to embrace the legacy of the borinqueneers and pay tribute to the achievements of the 65th infantry regiment.
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congratulations, borinqueneers. thank you for your fierce courage and exceptional service to our country. may god continue to bless you and the united states of america. thank you. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, united states senator from connecticut, the honorable richard blumenthal. [applause] sen. blumenthal: [speaking spanish] [applause] [laughter] because i'm going to be followed by marco rubio, who will correct me when i get it wrong. [laughter] [applause] and i want to thank senator rubio for his partnership in this effort. as well as my colleagues, senator mcconnell and senator
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reed, who were so instrumental in making possible this extraordinary day. there are very few magic moments in this place. but this time is one of them. and it was made possible by truly a bipartisan effort. we ought to see more like it in the united states congress. [applause] i want to thank the borinqueneers who are here today, particularly my friends from connecticut. thank you for being here. [applause] they inspired me in connecticut. and then when i visited the borinqueneers in puerto rico, to see their history displayed in photographs, and to hear from them the stories of their
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bravery and others of men who did not come back. they are american warriors. they are american fighters and patriots in the best and bravest sense of the word. [laughter] -- [applause] and we honor them today in a proud tradition. the tradition of the tuskegee airmen, the navajo code talkers, men who braved and overcame and defied the insult of discrimination and even segregation. who showed us how to be better americans. [applause] the men and women of puerto rico are americans.
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and their contribution to to america's defense, and most importantly the ideals of the american dream. the ideals of freedom and opportunity and equal rights under the law are remarkable. not just in war, but in peace. and the borinqueneers came back from war and continued to serve and sacrifice for our great nation. we are the greatest nation in the history of the world. but we are imperfect. and the borinqueneers remind us that their journey and ours will never end, as long as we tolerate the imperfection of discrimination and segregation in this country. and i want to thank them for giving us this opportunity to
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recognize and celebrate their patriotism, their courage, their strength, resilience, and resolve that will make our nation better and continue to make us the greatest nation in the history of the world. god bless you, and god bless our great country. thank you. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, united states senator from florida, the honorable marco rubio. [applause] sen. rubio: thank you very much. first of all, i was very impressed with senator blumenthal's spanish. for those of you who don't speak spanish, he just said he saved a bunch of money on his car insurance by switching to geico. [laughter] [speaking spanish] [applause] and i want to thank him as well
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for the opportunity to work with him on this very important issue. we're gathered here today for a moment that's been years in the making and quite frankly many years overdue. and i do want to say from the outset that as a member of the u.s. congress, i wish we could have honored with you this medal sooner. i join all the borinqueneers present today in remembering your brothers in arms, who passed away before this day could come. including those who have died since this legislation was signed by the president in 2014. it is my hope that more than -- that the more than 1,000 borinqueneers still living throughout the united states, as well as the family members of those who who have fallen and departed or are missing in action, that they will not at know at last -- that their service has received the ultimate tribute from a grateful nation. over the years, even in the shadow of unequal treatment, your regiment never faltered and failed to prove just how valuable it is to the cause of freedom. my favorite example was operation portrex. when the borinqueneers were tasked with playing the role of the enemy aggressors in the
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military exercise, they were able to halt the group of more than 32,000 american troops. and after seeing their skill, our army commanders wisely quickly deployed them into the , heart of the korean war after seeing their capabilities. it has been one of my great honors as a senator to be involved in the effort to secure the congressional gold medal for the borinqueneers. by having the opportunity to co-sponsor the legislation that passed in 2014. today, i would like to thank two congressionally designated liaisons to the u.s. mint, who work to ensure this medal would be as impressive as it turned out. sam rodriguez and happier morale javier morales, who are army veterans themselves. i would want to echo what congressman posey said about the school in florida. and several of them are here today, along with their teacher, who is the granddaughter of two borinqueneers. they raised thousands of dollars
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in their community towards an ongoing national effort to ensure that every living borinqueneer would receive a replica of the congressional gold medal. [applause] the passionate efforts of mr. rodriguez and mr. morales, and miss ford and her students, and so many others would have labored to make this day a reality is part of what makes this medal so special. it reminds us that the legacy of past generations of borinqueneers who fought and died for america is indeed a living legacy. today, that legacy, alive and well, reminds us that america is truly an exceptional country. our's is a nation made up of people from all different backgrounds and all different cultures. who came together as one nation, because we share a common idea that everyone deserves the freedom to exercise their god-given rights. each member of the 65th infantry
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regiment fought for that freedom. not just for themselves. they fought for every man and woman and child in these united states of america. so, in closing to the borinqueneers, i would like to say congratulations on the unveiling of your well-deserved congressional gold medal. more importantly, on behalf of my staff, on behalf of my children, and of the people of florida, i say thank you. thank you for your service. thank you for your courage. and thank you for fighting to make this nation the best it can be. [speaking spanish] and may god always bless the united states of america. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, the united states army band. pershing's own.
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♪ own"]ng "pershing's
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♪ [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, the democratic leader of the united states house of representatives, the honorable nancy pelosi. [applause] rep. pelosi: good afternoon, everyone. it is my honor to join our speaker and our leaders in the
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senate in welcoming you all to the capitol on this very special day for all of us. a privilege to have each and every one of you here, along with the secretary of veterans affairs, and the secretary of the army. i am pleased to join leader mcconnell and leader reid in this very personal gold medal award ceremony. it is such a special day to join our colleague, resident commissioner perilisi. who is part of the sponsor of the legislation. and thank all the other sponsors, as well. our advocate in the house of representative, nidia velasquez, who is here with us today. [applause] and, of course, a special honor to welcome governor pedia of puerto rico. [applause]
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just in case everyone hadn't been introduced, we had to go over it some more. it's an honor to join all of you, as we bestow the gold medal on the legendary, proud, dignified 65th infantry regiment. honor and fidelity, so rings the motto of this courageous regiment of americans. first formed, as has been said, as a unit of puerto rican volunteers, it was redesignated at the 65th infantry regiment in 1920. with honor and fidelity, the 65th infantry overcame prejudice and bigotry, and wrote a new chapter of heroism in our shared american story. that is part of their legacy. in the panama canal zone in world war i, later on the doorstep of nazi germany, in the
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defining crucible of the korean war and beyond, borinqueneers protected freedom abroad and advanced dignity for puerto rico and latino americans at home. the korean war in particular, the borinqueneers astounded their commanders with their spectacular valor and courage. they taught lessons. they enriched our nation with the strength of their service, through the excellence of their example, and the power of their bravery. the borinqueneers' valor under fire is nothing short of legendary. it is no accident that the u.s. army's first latino general in the u.s. army, general richard cavosose, is a veteran of the 65th infantry. i believe he is with us today. general, are you here?
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please rise and be acknowledged. [applause] the first four-star general. i should speak directly to your heroic service, all of you, as truly one of the great american stories. it's not just about what you did then, which is a proud legacy and a dignified legacy. it is also the fact that others from the latino american immunity, -- community, puerto ricans and others, followed in your footsteps and are very important parts of the national security of our country. i know that my colleagues would agree that wherever we travel in the world to visit our men and women in uniform, including in some of the u.s. hospitals around the world, we see and meet latino-american brave men and women in uniform who are fighting, who have fought for
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our country. you should take some satisfaction in your leadership role, and that is part of your legacy. [applause] again, as senator blumenthal mentioned, it stands among some of the most honored names in american military history. units who overcame the worst discrimination for the right to defend our country. today we add to the rolls of our most courageous and trailblazing congressional gold medal honorees, the native american code talkers, the 100th battalion of the combat team,ican tuskegee airmen, and the mumford point marines. imagine, they were out there fighting for freedom.
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you were out there fighting for freedom while being deprived of it in many cases at home. again, you are making america more american. [applause] to these ranks of heroes, it is our privilege to add the 65th infantry regiment. to the veterans of the 65th infantry regiment with us today and to your families who shared your sacrifice and contribution to america, to all those around the country, thank you. thank you for your service, your leadership, your courage. thank you for your honor and your fidelity. thank you for defending freedom and enriching our great democracy. thank you for blessing america with your service. god bless you. god bless america. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, the
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democratic leader of the united states senate, the honorable harry reid. [applause] sen. reid: on may 19, i was given the unique honor, but it was 1996. i represent the united states senate at the dedication of the monument of remembrance in san juan, puerto rico. i will never forget that day. i was a fairly new senator. it was a beautiful day. i can remember the hot sun. i can remember the crowd that was there. i can still picture that dedication in my mind's eye. the new monument looked exquisite in that great puerto
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rican sky reflected off the round granite wall that bears the names of every puerto rican who had fallen in defense of the united states in world war i, ii, and korea. and vietnam. but what i remember most isn't the spectacle of the dedication. rather, will always remember the feeling that prevailed at that dedication. the honor of those veterans in attendance, we could all feel it. the reverence for the service members who paid the ultimate price, we could feel it. and the immense gratitude the people of puerto rico had for their veterans. the same emotions are with us today as we honor the 65th infantry regiment. excuse me. to be sure, this honor is late in coming, we have had a number of people say that. but in spite of the 65th infantry regiment's heroism, its
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efforts were unrecognized for too long by congress and by the american people. as one member of the regiment said, and i quote, we lost so many. the american people don't know the sacrifice of so many puerto ricans who died in korea. it was the bloodiest war for puerto rico. close quote. the sacrifices of service members from puerto rico were disproportionately large. 740 puerto ricans died in the korean conflict. 2300 were wounded. many of them grievously wounded. 121 are still missing in action. the 65th infantry regiment paid a terrible price, a prize for -- price for freedom, our freedom. but they left an incredible example of service and patriotism that tens of thousands of puerto ricans have followed by enlisted in the armed services. it was an exemplary service
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those military folks in all those conflicts, but especially korea. so today all across the world, puerto ricans are fighting and sacrificing for our country. throughout the war on terror and the combined operations in iraq and afghanistan, 78 puerto ricans have been killed and 378 have been wounded. all in combat. the brave men and women of puerto rico who serve today are following in the footsteps of the 65th infantry regiment. they will always be remembered for their heroic efforts. they will be remembered by the fathers and mothers and grandfathers and grandmothers, and all puerto ricans will remember the sacrifices of the korean conflict. and we should do the same. i'm confident i will and i hope we all do. may we as a nation never forget the 65th proud infantry regiment. [applause]
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>> ladies and gentlemen, the majority leader of the united states senate, the honorable mitch mcconnell. [applause] sen. mcconnell: christmas eve is a special time for many of us. it's an evening filled with love and anticipation, confections and devotion. that is true whether you are in louisville or las vegas, anchorage or austin, seattle or san juan. if you happen to be in san juan one particular christmas eve in 1950, you might have seen families celebrating over elaborate dinners. you might have detected the smells of roast pork and the faint melodies of familiar songs
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like "silent night." and maybe, just maybe, you might have detected a recognizable echo from half the world away, the sound of soldiers singing in spanish the very same song. it could have been a song of gratitude for a hot shower and warm meals, or a song of remembrance for comrades lost or a song of celebration for one of the greatest withdrawals in modern military history. what we do know is this. the men singing that christmas eve off the coast of north korea were proud members of the 65th infantry regiment, the borinqueneers. these soldiers had just faced a daunting mission, help korea , refugees and fellow american
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, soldiers escape from over 100,000 communist chinese troops. troops that not only outnumbered the americans but carried order s to annihilate them. outgunned and outmanned though the 65th may have been, these soldiers courageously marched forward through subzero temperatures, through mountainous terrain, and right into heavy gunfire. near the beaches the 65th swung into action providing rear guard assistance to the first marine division. what these soldiers achieved at the reservoir helped thousands maneuver to safety. the men of the 65th lost many comrades. but they stayed behind until the job was done. they were among the last to evacuate on christmas eve. it's no wonder general douglas macarthur praised them as a
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resolute will to victory. these soldiers he said were writing a brilliant record of achievement. it's a record that began in the sometimes hellish theaters of both world war i and world war ii. it continues across fierce battles in the korean war. what these men achieved is all the more remarkable when you consider the other obstacles they often had to confront at the very same time. so we're proud today to have some of these brave men and their families here with us. we also honor the soldiers who can't be here. we remember the wounded, the missing, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice. the soldiers of the 65th infantry regiment distinguished themselves with a number of high honors in the korean war. as others have said, nearly a dozen distinguished service crosses, some 250 silver stars,
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more than 600 bronze stars and over 2,700 purple hearts. we add to that today with the highest civilian honor congress can bestow. the congressional gold medal is an honor that has been granted to our country's most distinguished military units from the doolittle raiders and the navajo code talkers to the fighter aces and the tuskegee airmen. we now present it to a group of soldiers who distinguished themselves with bravery and a determination to never stop writing that brilliant, brilliant record. -- record of achievement. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, the speaker of the united states house of representatives, the honorable paul d. ryan. [applause]
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sen. ryan: when you start learning about the borinqueneers and their history, the question that keeps coming to mind is, would you fight for a country that discriminated against you? would you fight in an army that puts you in a segregated unit? and would you fight without any guarantee that one day, way down the line, your country would finally recognize your service? because these men, they did that. it takes a certain caliber of man to do that. i recently heard a story that makes this point beautifully. it's about one of the men i mentioned earlier. john was a doctor serving in korea. one day a korean couple came to his aid station with a very, very sick baby.
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he had a severe case of pneumonia. there was a new wonder drug called penicillin. john knew it would save the boy. there were strict rules about its use. you were supposed to give it to american soldiers and american soldiers only. john later said, i just could not simply let that baby die. and so he gave their son an injection. six weeks later, the couple came to visit john at his aid station. now very, very far away from where he had originally met them. and thanked him for curing their son. in exchange they offered him a bag of chestnuts and he gladly accepted. i tell you this story, a simple story, because i think it illustrates what we admire in the borinqueneers. they showed us that time again, courage does not know color.
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decency does not pick sides. these men did not fight to preserve the status quo. they fought to make their country better. and they succeeded. their decency was so plain, their courage very obvious, that now the whole country has honored them for their valor. the story of the 65th infantry regiment is full of heroism and sacrifice. and with this medal, the borinqueneers, we are weaving that story into this fabric of american history. and now that history is so the much brighter for it. thank you. [applause] now it's my pleasure to invite
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-- kernel and the sergeant the colonel and the sergeant to the stage for the presentation, along with the delegation here. [applause] [applause continues] [cheers]
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>> ladies and gentlemen, colonel manuel siverio. [applause]
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siverio: mr. speaker of the house, honorable fellow borings, -- friends, thank you for the honor of allowing me to join this assembly of distinguished members of congress to represent the regiment
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for which i was part. on behalf of the men who were members of the regiment, it is a distinct privilege for me to receive this highly prestigious award, the congressional gold medal. it is well-deserved tribute to the brave men that fought many hard battles in korea. those who survived as well as those who lost their lives in combat, their devotion to duty and many acts of valor against the enemy demonstrated the skills and their loyalty to the united states. general william harris, the former commander of the 55th 65th infantry regiment, in
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combat in the early part of the korean war, expressed it best when he said, and i quote, no group has greater pride in itself and its heritage than the puerto rican people. [applause] col. siverio: nor have i encountered any that were more dedicated in support of the democratic principles for which the united states stands. [applause] i accept this medal in the name
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of all borinqueneers the regiment, the families of those who lost their loved ones, the families of over 100 missing in action, and whose remains have not been recovered. thank you again for remembering the 65th infantry regiment, for our effort and extreme sacrifice in many cases, in battles against the enemy. god bless you. [applause] [applause]
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>> ladies and gentlemen, the united states army band and chorus, pershing's own. ♪ [applause] ♪
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in spanish] ♪
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[applause] [singing in spanish]
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♪ [applause]
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[applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, the acting secretary of the united states army, the honorable patrick murphy. [applause] sec. murphy: how can you follow pershing's own? let me tell you something, i thought being secretary of the army was a hard job. you guys were awesome. [applause] round of applause. next time, we're going to get congresswoman vasquez from new york, she was singing the whole time. were they not awesome? they were terrific. [applause]
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sec. murphy: first off the bat, speaker ryan, thank you for hosting us, and to all the national political leaders, thank you for your leadership to make this a reality. [applause] and of course, the other speakers i want to echo the remarks that there are some great military leaders here in our presence. we have the adjutant general of puerto rico, we thank you for your leadership. [applause] it's a historic year for the army. we had three women graduate from ranger school. there's a great general officer right there one of the mentors to this next generation. so thank you so much, ma'am. [applause] sec. murphy: we also have the vice chief of staff, general dan allen that is here. [applause] sec. murphy: and general tim
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cassidy who is head of our , reserves. so thank you so much, general. [applause] sec. murphy: now, we are here to recognize the borinqueneers for their time in korea, they have led in so many efforts for our nations. with two members of congress that are also korean war veterans. congressman sam johnson and congressman charlie rangel. charlie, thank you so much for your leadership. [applause] sec. murphy: and let me just say something about the borinqueneers. their service in uniform was extraordinary over generations. as an iraq war veteran of this generation, and now in this role, it's the korean war generation and the vietnam generation that made sure when my generation came home, we were welcomed with open arms, and we
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owe you a debt of gratitude for welcoming us home and making us feel like brothers. thank you so very much, every single one of you. [applause] sec. murphy: as speaker ryan said, it could have been easy to look down. it could have been easy to turn your back. it could have been easy to put that uniform away and not serve anymore. but every single one of you show what it means to be an american soldier. to be a soldier for life. that when you wear the cloths of our country, the love of our nation is stamped in your heart forever. and you continue to serve. you continue to be civic assets in our community, all over the world. when speaker ryan told that story about the colonel over there with the penicillin, our -- i saw you shaking your head,
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he did not like the recognition. let me tell you something, you saved that boy's life. wherever an american soldier goes in this world, we make a positive difference. in your generation, in my generation, and it's hard to see it in real time. but you ask the people of afghanistan. there's millions of girls that are going to school now that never went to school before in afghanistan. that's because of the american soldier and our troops. [applause] sec. murphy: now, colonel, your eloquent speech, we appreciate it. i will tell you, you look like an american paratrooper. i see his combat infantry badge on his shoulder. let me tell you, he does look good. i think he's a married man, but he does look very good. [laughter] [applause]
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sec. murphy: but the heart of an american soldier is what we're celebrating today, and it's an honor, as your secretary of the army, to be here, to celebrate with each and every one of you. god bless you and god bless america. thank you. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, the honorable robert mcdonald. [applause] sec. mcdonald: good afternoon. good afternoon. i'm pleased to be able to add my congratulations to everyone who has had a hand in make thing day
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happen, especially to those veterans who have earned this award through their pioneering service. my mission, and the mission of my apartment is the care for those who have born the battle, indent lincoln's words, and for the families and their survivors. it's the best and most inspiring mission in government, serving the best and most deserving clients in the world. the proof is right here among us. this, the veterans of the 65th infantry regiment, this honor is long overdue. but i want you know the veterans of puerto rico have never been forgotten by the american people. the v.a. has been caring for them for longer than it's been a department, providing them the same care and benefits available
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to other veterans. over 60,000 veterans are interred at the puerto rico cemetery where the wartime services of each one of them are etched in stone for all to see. among them is master sergeant juan martinez, a native of puerto rico. he enlisted in the army in 1948 and in april of 1951 was serving in korea with company l, 65th infantry regiment, 3rd infantry division. when his company was forced to withdraw by enemy attack, he stayed behind and single handedly stopped the enemy from seizing the roadblock his company was defending. he held his position. and he held it through the entire night buying time for his company to regroup, and successfully counterattack. and for his bravery, he was recently awarded the nation's
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highest award for valor, the medal of honor. [applause] sec. mcdonald: i'll be in san juan later this month, beneath the walls of the old spanish fort, where the 65th fired the first american shots of world war i. while there, i'll visit the national cemetery to pay my respects on behalf of a nation to those who did not live to see this day. but who are finally now receiving the recognition they so richly deserve. they will always be remembered, that's president lincoln's promise.
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that's the v.a.'s promise. and that's my promise, as well. may god bless you all and god bless the united states of america. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, please stand as the chaplain of the united states house of representatives gives the benediction. rev. conroy: let us pray. may the hands and hearts of this nation be raised in prayer and praise for this puerto rican unit, which served our nation and the hope of freedom for all
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of the world. through three wars the borinqueneers chose to serve while they were still not completely welcome to share in the fullness of the american social fabric. even so, the unit earned thousands of military honors for their service. may the breath of god uphold their noble and heroic story. may it carry to other generations and even to other nations a message to inspire citizens everywhere to serve everywhere without counting the cost. may those who made the ultimate sacrifice, those who etched out historic victories, and those who suffered personally, the pain of discrimination in those dark days of our world and our nation, be rewarded with success
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and find peace. bless all women and men in military service, no matter their racial, cultural or religious heritage and their families. god bless america and grant us peace, both in the present and with you forever, amen. all: amen. >> ladies and gentlemen, please remain at your seats for the departure of the official party. [applause]
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>> on thursday president obama addressed an audience for the wounded warrior project. this is 20 minutes. [applause]

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