Created By: University of Massachusetts Boston
At this site, you will listen to audio that describe the Puerto Rican Veterans Memorial that was created on this site in 2013. It is the nation’s first-ever memorial to Puerto Rican veterans and was the result of 14 years of activism by the Puerto Rican community in Boston. Puerto Ricans have served in the U.S. military since its founding and hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans have been drafted or volunteered to serve in all the branches of the military. However, it is a complex history as the United States continues to keep Puerto Rico as a colony and Puerto Ricans were often forced to serve in segregated military units.
"The effort to construct the monument began in earnest in 1999, after Vietnam veterans Tony Molina and Jaime Rodriguez secured the triangular plot of land from the city and installed a plaque honoring the 65th Regiment, a Puerto Rican force that distinguished itself in the Korean War. From then on, the pair would come once or twice a week to clear litter and weeds from the park, cut the grass and maintain the plantings. It was a simple memorial, with flagpoles for the U.S., Puerto Rican and Massachusetts flags, but then — as now — it was the sole monument to Puerto Rican fighters in the United States. Molina and Rodriguez embarked on a fundraising campaign, hitting up corporations, hospitals and other institutions in the Boston area, often with disappointing results. 'We sent 21 proposals for funding to major banks in Boston,' Rodriguez says. 'We got $500.'" In the end, they were able to raise $400,000 to develop the park and memorial. What is the importance of this monument and park for the Puerto Rican community of Boston? How does Puerto Rican military service relate to U.S. colonialism? How does this monument help us better understand the history of Boston's Puerto Rican community?
Next, read this article from CUNY Hunter College's Center for Puerto Rican Studies on Puerto Rican's service in the U.S. military: https://centropr-archive.hunter.cuny.edu/digital-humanities/pr-military/puerto-rican-experience-us-military-century-unheralded-service
Next, read this Bay State Banner article on the Puerto Rican Veterans Memorial: https://www.baystatebanner.com/2013/11/25/first-in-the-nation-memorial-park-in-boston-honor-puerto-rican-veterans/
Next, read this WGBH article on a recent ceremony at the Puerto Rican Veterans Memorial: https://www.wgbh.org/news/local-news/2022/05/30/puerto-rican-veterans-honored-at-south-end-ceremony
Finally, read this article about a statue to honor Puerto Rican baseball player Roberto Clemente that was also placed at this site in 2015: https://www.boston.com/news/local-news/2015/11/19/roberto-clemente-honored-with-statue-in-south-end/
This point of interest is part of the tour: Resisting Colonialism at Villa Victoria Walking Tour