Ceremony in Coventry held in honor of Day of Portugal holiday | Coventry Courier

COVENTRY — Outside the Coventry Town Hall, a green and red flag stands in celebration of Portuguese culture and traditions, and of the heritage shared by many in the Pawtuxet Valley.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to stand here and raise the flag in the city that I live in,” Ana Isabel dos Reis-Couto, 2022 RI Day of Portugal Committee president, said Wednesday to a small crowd that had gathered on the lawn of the town hall for a flag-raising ceremony.

Dos Reis-Couto, who was born in Portugal and immigrated to the United States at around 15 years old, is proud to be part of the local Portuguese community, she added.

“We are doctors, we’re attorneys, we’re landscapers, we’re farmers, we’re nurses,” she continued. “We are part of the fabric of Rhode Island and the cities and towns that we live in. ”

Held annually on June 10, Day of Portugal commemorates the death in 1580 of poet Luís Vaz de Camões, best known for his epic poem “Os Lusíadas,” regarded widely as the most important work of Portuguese literature. The holiday is recognized globally, in Portugal as well as across the diaspora.

In Rhode Island, Day of Portugal has been celebrated for four and a half decades with flag-raising ceremonies and various other events, including a days-long festival.

Providence will come alive this weekend, beginning at 6 pm Friday with a Day of Portugal opening ceremony at the Statehouse followed by a torch procession. The festival will kick off Saturday featuring all kinds of traditional entertainment, dance and food, and on Sunday the Day of Portugal Parade will step off at 3 pm

Locally, ceremonies are held annually in both Coventry and West Warwick, where a Portuguese flag was raised Wednesday morning near the rotary outside the Royal Mills.

Wednesday’s event in Coventry saw several people gathered outside the town hall, including Rep. Tom Noret; Chief Frederick J. Heise and Det. Pedro Vieira of the Coventry Police Department; and Fr. Victor Silva of St. Anthony Church.

Noret spoke briefly during the ceremony of the importance, especially during trying times, of supporting cultural diversity and of preserving traditions for future generations.

“Portuguese culture and traditions are strong in District 25,” Noret said of the Rhode Island district that he represents, “and I’m proud to participate in this culture and these traditions.”

Dos Reis-Couto echoed Noret’s sentiments about “being inclusive, being kind, being open, being accepting and tolerant of everyone that’s different and unique.”

For dos Reis-Couto, to witness either the Portuguese or the American flag being raised is an emotional experience.

“When you raise the [American flag]I feel a connection to the country that I live in — the country that gathered us, accepted us, and let us make our lives for a better future, ”she said.“ And when we raise the Portuguese flag, it ties me back to my home. ”

The flag is a bridge, she added, between the country that she now calls home, and the one that she and her family left behind.

“To be here honoring these two flags is truly indescribable,” she said, both flags flying high above her, the Portuguese at a slightly lower height than the American.

From the Coventry Town Council, council president Ann Dickson and councilor Hillary Lima were also in attendance Wednesday.

Dickson said she’s always been impressed by the passion that dos Reis-Couto and other RI Day of Portugal Committee members have for their heritage, and added that the council is happy to support the flag-raising ceremony.

Lima, whose grandfather’s family came from the Azores, said that she too is proud to celebrate the culture in Coventry.

Having previously been unaware of any connection to Portugal, Coventry Town Manager Benjamin Marchant added that he learned recently through researching his own family history that he also has ancestors from the country.

“For me, that’s a message that it’s so important to embrace our diversity, our cultures,” Marchant said. “We’re all citizens of one planet, one world, and we have to love and embrace that because we don’t even know — we may have connections, and embracing that culture may be embracing our own. ”

kgravelle@ricentral.com

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