The Latino military veterans known as the Borinqueneers will be honored at the NASCAR pre-ceremony on Sunday, July 5th in Daytona.
The 20,000 soldiers, named Borinqueneers from Puerto Rico's native Indian name, Borinquen, served in the 65th Infantry Regiment. The veterans served in segregated military units including World Wars I and II and in Korea. They were honored last year when President Obama signed the Borinqueneers Congressional Gold Medal bill into law.
"For their dedicated service in Korea alone, the Borinqueneers received 10 Distinguished Service crosses, 256 Silver Stars, 606 Bronze Stars, and 2,771 Purple Hearts. These brave soldiers overcame the hurdles of segregation and prejudice while protecting our nation's interests and impacting American history and culture," said Rafael A. Fantauzzi President & CEO of the National Puerto Rican Coalition in a press release about the NASCAR event.
Before they were honored last year, the Puerto Rican soldiers had gotten recognition in film form.
“The Borinqueneers,” the first major documentary chronicling the lives of of these soldiers, was created by Noemi Figueroa Soulet in 2007 and aired on PBS and to more than 850,000 U.S. troops overseas.
“There was very little information out there," said Soulet in a previous interview with NBC News Latino. "I remember contacting the Center for Military History in Washington DC - I began forming relationships with people through the internet."
Soulet said she was trying to show positive role models as well as show how Puerto Ricans like the Borinqueneers "are the fabric of society."
“If anything proves that, it is the service of our soldiers – that’s the ultimate sacrifice,” she said.
The documentary ends with a veteran saying, "I just want the American people to know we did our share."
These Hispanic heroes now join other groups granted the highest civilian honor by Congress. Other groups that served in segregated military units were also honored. Those include the Native American Navajo Wind Talkers, the Japanese American Nisei Soldiers, and the African American Tuskegee Airmen.
The veterans will participate in a NASCAR media event around 4pET on Sunday and then will be on stage during the pre-race ceremony at 7pET.