On Sunday, June 11, hundreds of thousands of my fellow Puerto Ricans and New Yorkers will come together along Fifth Ave. to celebrate our shared culture and heritage as part of the 60th Annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade.
I will be among them.
I will march as I have for each of the 20 years I have been an elected official. And I will celebrate like I have since I was a small child. I will shake hands with my fellow boricuas. I will proudly wave La Bandera Puertorriquena. I will not let the controversy surrounding one man become bigger than the hearts of millions of Puerto Ricans.
The National Puerto Rican Day Parade has never been about one person, but the more than 5 million Puerto Ricans who call the mainland United States their home. To suggest otherwise is to reduce our traditions and pride into the background noise of a novella. Reasonable people can disagree on the actions and impact of Oscar López Rivera. Many in our city have invoked the specter of terrorism, especially in the wake of the tragedy of 9/11, as a reason why Rivera should not be honored by the parade, and I understand the passion of that argument.
Rivera served 35 years in federal prison. He was offered clemency by two different presidents, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. He served his time, and he was released legally.
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