Why the Monument?
The William Joiner Center at the University of Massachusetts, Boston Campus where Mr. Jaime Rodriquez had been the Research Coordinator had sponsored the “Speakers Conference” in Washington, D.C. for the past 19 years. The Center dedicated the 1998 “Speakers Conference” to the concerns of the veterans especially to those who fought in the Vietnam War. This was an important landmark as 1998 represented the 100th anniversary of the colonization of Puerto Rico.
At this conference Mr. Jaime Rodriquez invited Mr. Tony Molina and other Purple Heart Vietnam Veterans to participate from a 65th Infantry Regiment Workshop. Mr. Ernest Acosta from the Puerto Rican Research Institute and Mr. Gumersindo Gomez from The Puerto Rican Veterans Association of Massachusetts collaborated with Mr. Jaime Rodriquez in the production of this special Workshop.
Afterwards this elite team of veterans exceptionally steered by Mr. Tony Molina joined Don Carlos Romero Barceló, Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico, and organized an extraordinary celebration in honor of this remarkable milestone. Interestingly just prior to leave Washington, D.C. Mr. Tony Molina told Mr. Jaime Rodriquez “I am going to erect a monument in honor of those courageous men who fought in the 65th Infantry”.
Mr. Jaime Rodriquez did not hear from Mr. Tony Molina for almost a year until one morning when Mr. Tony Molina called him and surprised him with new advice on the progress he had made regarding erecting the Plaque. “This summer” Tony said, “I am going to erect a monument to the 65thth Infantry in the South End. It will be in the neighborhood where the Puerto Ricans first arrived to Boston. I need you to join me in this endeavor. We need to take over the city lot that is located in front of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, the Cathedral where Puerto Ricans prayed for the first time in Boston”. Mr. Tony Molina purchased a plaque in Puerto Rico, purchased the granite stone in New Hampshire and affirmed: “now it’s time for action”.
One day in the summer of 1999 a Plaque honoring the fighting men of the 65th appeared on a piece of land on the corner of Washington St and West Dedham in the South End diagonal to the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. A few days later a picture of Mr. Tony Molina and the Monument appeared in “El Mundo” newspaper. As a surprise to everyone, a Monument about Puerto Rican heroes was born!
In 2009 a group of Puerto Rican Veterans composed of Mr. Jaime Rodriquez, Mr. Tony Molina, their friends and families established the Puerto Rican Veterans Monument Square Association with the goal to restore the site. After years of pressure on its foundation the Plaque slanted to the side creating an urgency to renew the setting.
Additionally the Puerto Rican Veterans Monument Association decided to expand the existing commemorative and develop a Monument for the Puerto Rican fighters with a more impressive and interactive structure that will also restore the appearance of the Puerto Rican Veterans Park.