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[Congressional Record: May 7, 2002 (Extensions)]
[Page E738-E739]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:cr07my02-53]                         



 
                A WELL DESERVED TRIBUTE TO HEITOR SOUSA

                                 ______
                                 

                           HON. BARNEY FRANK

                            of massachusetts

                    in the house of representatives

                          Tuesday, May 7, 2002

  Mr. FRANK. Mr. Speaker, last month, in Fall River, Massachusetts, a 
very impressive tribute was paid to Heitor Sousa, one of the leaders in 
the Portuguese American community. Heitor Sousa came to the U.S. in 
1981 from the Azores, and he is an example of the way in which 
immigration enriches our country economically, culturally, and 
socially. I have been privileged to benefit from Heitor Sousa's 
friendship, advice, and wisdom for 20 years, during the time I have 
represented parts of Southeastern Massachusetts in this body. I want to 
add my own personal gratitude to him for the extraordinary service he 
has performed both for the people of Southeastern Massachusetts and 
Rhode Island and for the residents of Portugal in general and the 
Azores in

[[Page E739]]

particular. The tribute paid to him was extremely well deserved.

              [From Comunidade--Community, April 10, 2002]

                                 MUSIC

       Fall River.--Flanked by good friends and hundreds of 
     admirers, Heitor Sousa, the founder of the Great Feast of the 
     Holy ghost of New England, was honored yesterday in a 
     ceremony that was described as ``a happy and loving 
     tribute.''
       Guests traveled from as far away as Toronto and the Azores 
     to attend the ceremony hosted by the Our Lady of Light Band 
     Band.
       Sousa, 63, immigrated to the United States in 1981 to 
     establish the Banco Comercial dos Acores branch on Pleasant 
     Street and within five years founded the annual Portuguese 
     Battle of the Bands and the Great Feast. He has also been a 
     strong advocate for the continuation of the bands and an 
     increase in performances.
       ``Heitor Sousa is a `grand homem' (a great man),'' said 
     Fall River Diocese Bishop Sean P. O'Malley as he opened the 
     ceremony.
       Rhode Island General Treasurer Paul Tavares told the large 
     jam-packed crowed that he met Sousa in 1984.
       ``We formed a great friendship,'' Tavares said. ``I have a 
     great deal of respect for this man, who is dedicated to his 
     community, his homeland, this new land and his Azorean 
     culture.''
       Fall River State Representative Robert Correia told the 
     crowd that Sousa's life tale has been entered into the 
     state's official archives, ``where it will be forever.'' He 
     added that Sousa helped him understand his culture better and 
     even took him to the homeland to foster a better connection.
       Turning to the crowd, Correia said that Sousa is very much 
     like the Braga and Mount Hope bridges that many of the Rhode 
     Islanders took to attend the hall.
       ``Heitor is a bridge from the Azores to Fall River,'' said 
     Correia. ``He traveled the bumpy road from the Azores to here 
     and took me and a few of us on the bumpy road from here to 
     the Azores. He is not a man of words but a man of action.''
       Rev. Luis Cardosa, formerly of Espirito Santo Church and 
     now of Sao Miguel Church of Fall River, said it will never be 
     known how many people Sousa has helped in his life.
       ``He has done so much for the community, but all he did was 
     driven by his faith,'' he said.
       Mayor Edward M. Lambert, Jr. told the crowd that he was 
     befriended by Sousa many years ago and despite a language 
     barrier the two have worked well together.
       ``That's because he has always spoken the language of the 
     heart,'' said Lambert. He added that if one could equate 
     one's spirit with song, then ``the life of Heitor Sousa has 
     been a beautiful concert.''
       He praised the work Sousa has done in founding the feast, 
     adding ``it is a great source of pride for everyone in Fall 
     River. No other event brings so many people--so many eyes 
     from all over the world to this great city. For this, you 
     will always be remembered. Heitor Sousa you are a treasure in 
     this community, which we value tremendously.''
       The master of ceremonies for the event, Manuel F. Estrela, 
     broke up the praise with his own humor. Saying that he could 
     not stand by and see only good things said about his old 
     friend, he joked that it was time to talk about Sousa's 
     shortcomings.
       ``He is a great ``'Sportinguista,' '' he said to the roar 
     of the crowd. A sportinguista is a fan of the Portugal's 
     Sporting Soccer team.
       Sousa was also praised by two of the Azores top 
     journalists. Jorge Nascimento Cabral, a retired publisher of 
     Correio dos Acores, and Osvaldo Cabral of RTP-Azores.
       Both men said they could not have missed the event.
       ``His roots are deeply planted on both sides of the 
     Atlantic,'' said Cabral of RTP. ``I see in him the greatest 
     recognition of faith, of fatherhood, of grand fatherhood, 
     husbandry and community service.''
       Cabral said that back in his village of Rabo de Peixe the 
     youth all know of Sousa's work.
       ``He is a great example for us who are older and for the 
     younger generation,'' he said.
       Jorge Cabral, the featured speaker, talked about how Sousa 
     rose from his small village to be a mountain of a man on two 
     sides of the ocean.
       ``It is not easy for someone to come from an island, from 
     Rabo de Peixe, and leave to go to a country where they speak 
     a different language and lead a cultural revival,'' he said. 
     ``But he has given a new meaning to the word `saudade.' He 
     has always been in the service of the people. And he has 
     carried with him the greatest symbol of the Azores--people's 
     faith. This is a very dynamic man who has served his 
     community, fostered many organizations, but never profited 
     monetarily just through the peace of his conscious.''
       On several occasions Sousa became choked up. Tears swelled 
     in his eyes during a surprise performance by the Our lady of 
     Light Band, which played a song Sousa once led while he was 
     the director of the Banda Lira do Norte in Rabo de Peixe--
     ``marcha de Cigano.''
       After the speeches, Sousa was presented with a portrait by 
     the Banda da Luz, which they said would hang in their club 
     forever. He was also given a check for $1,849, the profits 
     from the banquet, but in typical Sousa fashion he donated it 
     back, saying that he wanted it to be designated for a fund to 
     be given to the top student of each of the 15 Portuguese 
     bands of New England. Minutes later Carlos Andrade of Sharon 
     pledged to give $5,000 to bolster the very fund.
       In a touching closing ceremony, Sousa was presented plaques 
     by all of the bands that he has championed over the years. He 
     also thanked those gathered, including Estrela, the Cabrals, 
     all of the bands and their leadership, as well as Luis Silva 
     and Antonio Carvalho of the Light Band.
       Sousa also took the time to thank his wife, ``who has been 
     suffering me for 40 years,'' he said.
       He ended his speech with a challenge to the leaders of the 
     community and in the Azores, saying that they must do more to 
     support the bands. He added that the Azores should host an 
     annual ban performance, which incorporates bands from the 
     United States and the islands.
       ``Our bands are often forgotten by our leaders,'' he added.

       

                          ____________________





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