Friday, August 21, 2009
Today is a Hawaii State Holiday. Here they call it Statehood Day, the 3rd Friday of August. In California the similar holiday falls Sep 9 and is Admission Day. In Colorado they call 1 Aug Colorado Day. Every state must have a comparable holiday. Except the original 13, who must honor their statehood on the 4th of July.
This Statehood Day is extra special. It's the 50th anniversary of Hawaii's statehood. I don't remember the August date very well. My Hawaiian grandmother, the grandmother I knew well because we lived on the same island, was in Queen's Hospital. Her death, from untreated breast cancer, would come on the evening of 25 August.
We had done our real celebrating back in March, the day the vote was taken in Congress. Now THAT day was one to remember. I was not quite 16, halfway through my sophomore year of high school. Although ours was a politically conscious campus (Dan Inouye's wife, Maggie, was the supervising teacher in the other sophomore homeroom), I'm sure we were not the only school in the Territory where a radio in every classroom was tuned to the live broadcast of that congressional vote.
When the vote came, there was lots of cheering and excitement. We spilled out into the hallways, found anything we could use to make noise. I don't specifically remember confetti. That would have taken advance planning, but we had a good idea that the vote would come that day. On the streets car horns honked raucously. There were no churches close by with bell towers, so we did not hear the church bells ringing. School was dismissed (nobody was going to concentrate anyway!). I don't remember quite where we went to celebrate or who I went with. My sense is CAR, CONVERTIBLE and WAIKIKI. It must have been Maile's car, for her family did have a convertible. Horns honking, more waving and shouting. More excitement. It took hours, perhaps days, to wind down.
My grandmother had been through changes of Hawaiian governmental authority before. She was born in the Kingdom of Hawaii. She was a small child when Queen Liliuokalani was overthrown in January 1893, nearly 10 when Hawaii became a Territory of the United States in July, 1898. In between had come the Provisional Government and, a little later, the Republic of Hawaii. She told stories of the girls at St. Andrew's Priory (where she lived from age 3 until her marriage eighteen years later) hiding the queen periodically during the years of the Republic. From her hospital bed Grammy said sadly, "First they took my queen. Then they took my flag. Now they have taken my land."
Don't forget to pray.