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In CT, Borinqueneers honored with major thoroughfare but input left out of design for Congressional Gold Medal

Bill Sarno

As Connecticut is poised to rename a major street through a Latino neighborhood in Bridgeport to “Borinqueneers Memorial Highway’, nationally questions are raised about the lack of input they’ve had in the design of the Congressional Gold Medal they were awarded.

The state bill, which passed early this morning in the legislature’s special session and is headed to the governor’s desk, honors the segregated Puerto Rican military unit, officially the U.S. Army’s 65th Infantry Regiment that served in four wars, while enduring discrimination and other hardships from within the military itself.

Nationally, the organization that lead the grassroots effort to have the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor awarded to the Borinqueneers is criticizing the U.S. Mint, which is responsible for the medals production. The issue, they say, is that those who fought in those units have had little if any participation in the design of the medal.

Frank Medina, a former Bridgeport resident who is chairman of the Borinqueneers Congressional Gold Medal Alliance said, “The democracy that the Borinqueneers so nobly fought for was not at all reflected in the gold medal design process..” Medina, is a West Point Military Academy graduate and served as a captain in the Army.

Presentation of the actual medal has been pending while it was designed and engraved. A meeting, which included a teleconference, was held June 16th with the Citizen’s Coinage Advisory Committee from the U.S. Mint and Borinqueneer design liaison team, that did not represent the CGM Alliance.

Medina said that he did not know that a vote was going to be held on a design and that the conference “allowed little to no input from outside phone participants,” including himself, Borinqueneers and their families. “It was a very unfortunate teleconference,” he said.

Medina said he and the others however want the presentation made soon due to the advanced age and shrinking ranks of these veterans. Medina said he currently is drawing together comments from the veterans and the community regarding how this situation may be addressed. He is also encouraging people to contact the Pedro Pierluisi, the resident commissioner of Puerto Rico, and William Norton, U.S. Mint liaison.

The design is not “final,” Medina said, there are edits and corrections to be made, and the Secretary of the Treasury has to sign off on the design. However, Medina also emphasized that…

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