65th Infantry Veteran’s Park

Contested Landscapes and Latinization in Greater Orlando

Pfc. Angel Perales (right), a Borinqueneer from New York City now serving with Headquarters Co., 1st Battalion 65th infantry Regiment, 3rd Division, in Korea, on August 30, 1952, points to protruding finger of Capt. Francisco Orobitg (center) of Hato Rey, P.R., as they examine a Puerto Rican flag, riddled by enemy shellfire. Holding flag at left is Sgt. Carmelo C. Mathews of San Juan, P.R. (AP Photo).

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65th Infantry Veteran’s Park

Contested Landscapes and Latinization in Greater Orlando

by Simone Delerme
Southern Cultures, Vol. 23, No. 4: Winter 2017

“[The 65th Infantry Memorial] continues to be one of the most important symbols of Osceola County’s Latinization and a significant political victory for some of the South’s newest residents.”

The phone call about the park came one afternoon in February 2011. Michael, a retired resident of Buenaventura Lakes (bvl), a majority–Puerto Rican suburb twenty miles south of Disney World, was on the other line. He was calling to inform me that he was called a “racist” and “stupid” by our District 2 commissioner during the afternoon meeting. His call caught me off guard, and I wasn’t sure how to respond, so I apologized sympathetically. But when we hung up the phone, I went online to stream the public footage of the weekly Osceola County commission meeting. One of the five county commissioners, John “Q” Quiñones, a native of Puerto Rico, introduced a proposal to revamp and re-name 33.6 acres of county property located in bvl—formerly the Walk-N-Stick Executive Golf Course—as the 65th Infantry Veteran’s Park. Michael, a Vietnam veteran, objected to the park’s name.

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