[Congressional Record: May 7, 2002 (Extensions)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
A WELL DESERVED TRIBUTE TO HEITOR SOUSA
HON. BARNEY FRANK
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
particular. The tribute paid to him was extremely well deserved.
[From Comunidade--Community, April 10, 2002]
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
Guests traveled from as far away as Toronto and the Azores
to attend the ceremony hosted by the Our Lady of Light 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
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
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
``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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