Cabral Field in Swansea was dedicated to the late "Officer Bob" during a ceremony Sunday.
By John Moss
Herald News Staff Reporter
Posted Oct 26, 2008 @ 06:44 PM
It was a beautiful day for soccer. But better yet, it was a great day to honor a man who dedicated his life to the town and its youth.
Hundreds were on hand for the long-awaited opening ceremony of the Lt. Robert M. Cabral Memorial Soccer Field on Sunday to pay tribute to the 26-year police veteran, killed in the line of duty by a drunken driver nearly three years ago.
The former Joseph Case High School football field, located several hundred yards behind the Joseph Case Junior High School, had been left desolate for about 30 years.
The overgrown and nearly impassable field soon became a focal point as the town prepared a tribute to the former Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer, substitute teacher, coach and friend to thousands of the community's young people. "This is a great tribute for a great man who was so involved in the schools," Superintendent of Schools Stephan Flanagan told the crowd near the field, now surrounded by a new fence and plush with hundreds of yards of new sod. "I think he was around more than the custodians and the teachers," Flanagan added.
Many people helped in many ways in the mission of creating a field named after "Officer Bob," he said. "What's been done is truly miraculous."
State Rep. Patricia A. Haddad, D-Somerset, said she met Cabral through his DARE program.
"He cared about every child and parent," she recalled. "What a great thing for you people in Swansea to do," she said of the soccer field dedication.
Gerard Hadjer of the Friends of DARE recalled how Cabral had challenged a small group of volunteers to make that program successful at its outset.
"He took it to the level of one of the top programs in the state and eventually represented Swansea on a national level," he said.
Although disbanded earlier this year because of funding shortages, the DARE program now has enough money raised to be solvent for the 2009-2010 school year, Hadjer reported.
"Thank you, Officer Bob, for your dedication to the Town of Swansea," he said.
Jo Lapre, Cabral's sister, told the gathering that Flanagan had a dream for the new soccer field.
"With the help of many people, this field became a reality," she said.
Fighting back tears, she added that the refurbished field will become a wonderful place for the town's youth to play.
"We all have a special place in our hearts for Bob. He made the world a better place," she said.
The Swansea Police Honor Guard raised the American flag to open the ceremonies.
The national anthem was sung by Julie Levesque.
The Rev. Joseph Viveiros of St. Dominic's Parish blessed the field.
Police Chief George Arruda read the policeman's prayer, followed by a ribbon cutting.
Music was provided by the Elementary School Chorus, directed by Anne Hart; the Joseph Case Junior High School Chorus and the Joseph Case High School Marching Band, both directed by Richard Cordeiro.