[Congressional Record Volume 142, Number 84 (Monday, June 10, 1996)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E1045]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                        HON. PATRICK J. KENNEDY

                            of rhode island

                    in the house of representatives

                         Monday, June 10, 1996

  Mr. KENNEDY of Rhode Island. Mr. Speaker, today is celebrated 
throughout the world as the Dia de Portugal.
  Every year on June 10, people of Portuguese descent around the world 
honor their heritage on Dia de Portugal (``Day of Portugal''). This is 
a time for all friends of Portugal to pause and consider the many 
achievements of that great nation over the centuries and to celebrate 
the cultural traditions, practices, and customs of Portugal.
  June 10 is the date of birth of Portugal's greatest poet, Luis de 
Camoens, who lived from 1524 to 1580.
  He is the author of the Portuguese national epic, ``The Lusiads,'' 
published in 1572. In this grand poem, Camoens did for the Portuguese 
language what Chaucer did for English and what Dante did for Italian.
  As well, he gave eloquent expression to the deepest and highest 
aspirations of the Portuguese people.
  Millions of Americans are proud of their Portuguese heritage, and 
millions more are enriched by living in neighborhoods and communities 
which are defined by the dynamic presence of Portuguese-Americans.
  My State of Rhode Island has one of the largest Portuguese-American 
populations in our country. The ties between Rhode Island and Portugal 
go back to the very origins of our State, and the contributions made by 
the Portuguese can be seen every day.
  Portuguese explorers dared to cross the oceans in search of new 
frontiers, and thanks to that courage, our Nation is enriched by 
traditions brought by the sons and daughters of Portugal.
  Whether it was from Dighton Rock in 1502, the Touro Synagogue in 
1658, or by whaling ships in the 1830's, the Portuguese undoubtedly 
were among the very first immigrants to settle on our shores.
  Unfortunately, anti-immigrant fervor brought Portuguese immigration 
down to a trickle after 1921.
  But there was an exception made in 1958, when President Eisenhower 
signed legislation introduced by then-Senator John F. Kennedy that 
allowed families affected by the volcanic eruption in the Azores to 
come to America.
  In 1965, President Johnson fulfilled President Kennedy's dream and 
signed legislation lifting the discriminatory Quota Act. Once again, 
New England could open its arms to the Portuguese. Lifting the quota 
allowed many families to reunite, and bring together many generations.
  At a time when the family is under great strain, and too often 
breaking under that strain, the example of family unity set by the 
Portuguese is a profound lesson for all of us.
  Everywhere Rhode Islanders turn, the Portuguese presence is seen. It 
is seen in the dozens of social clubs throughout our State. It is felt 
in the excitement of the Feshta and the dignity of the religious 
procession. It is represented here today by community leaders who are 
from all walks of life.
  This contribution is felt in many other States and hundreds of 
communities across this Nation.
  Portugal is a close and valued ally.
  Trade between our two nations is active and will surely grow. The 
recently completed Agreement on Cooperation and Defense provides for 
continued access to the Lajes Air Base in the Azores, as well as 
cooperation in nonmilitary matters. This base was critical to 
supporting our troops in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Restore 
Hope in Somalia.
  Portugal's economy is making tremendous progress, and soon the world 
will see the growth that has taken place in recent years. In 1998, 
Portugal will host the World Expo. The topic for Expo 1998 is: ``The 
Oceans: A Heritage for Our Future.''
  Expo 1998 will provide an ideal opportunity for Portugal to showcase 
its thriving industry while at the same time celebrating its uniquely 
rich heritage in ocean exploration. I am pleased that the United States 
will be participating in this event, and I congratulate the House for 
having earlier voted in favor of this participation.
  Today is a day for us to celebrate the contributions made to the 
United States by the Portuguese community. It is a time for us to 
celebrate the ties between the United States and Portugal. This is a 
relationship with a great history, and promising future.