Hawaii's Road to Statehood: #4

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Hawaii's Road to Statehood: #4

Posted by: Kim Steutermann Rogers
Destination: Hawaii Island , Kauai , Maui , Oahu
Aug 21, 2009

At 6:45 this morning, after I fed the laying hens (abandoned chicks my husband rescued from the wild a few years ago) in their coop and as I walked the dog, I noted the muted sun rising behind a bank of clouds in the eastern sky. I remember thinking how far north in the sky the sun sits these days, as I reached into the newspaper box at the end of my driveway. It was still early—for me, at least—and I hadn’t cleared the fog in my mind with my morning cup of tea yet, so I wasn’t quite prepared for the bold headline stretching across the breadth of the newspaper’s front page. “Statehood!” the one word headline exclaimed.

I scanned the six headlines titling the front page stories. All but one pertained to the 50th anniversary of the day Hawai’i joined the union. Then, I read each story’s lede, as I sat next to my dog on a rock near the road in front of my house. I share them—along with their accompanying headlines— here:

Hawai’i at 50: A look back. The top song of the day in the year of Hawai’i statehood, 1959, was “What’d I Say” by Ray Charles, and the only place to hear it on Kaua’i was AM 1350, KTOH, which stood for “Kaua’i Territory of Hawai’i.”
50 years since 50th star. President Dwight Eisenhower helps unfurl the new 50-star flag in Washington on Aug. 21, 1959, after he signed a proclamation making Hawai’i the 50th state of the union.
For some, statehood no cause for celebration. Fifty years ago, Hawai’i became a state, and the people rejoiced. Well, not everybody.
From agriculture to tourism, 50 years of economic changes. Instead of luxury homes, large-scale hotels and numerous beachfront vacation properties, sugar cane fields dominated Kauai’i’s landscape 50 years ago.
Hawai’i’s political history a story of dominance. Political control has rarely been balanced during Hawai’i’s 111-year history as a territory and then a state.

As I retraced my steps back to our house, I pondered each story’s angle, and I decided the collection does a good job of summarizing the mixed emotions of the day—capturing the history of the moment. Since reading Monday’s AP story by Mark Niesse about the low-key, quiet anniversary plans by the state, I had wondered whether the day would be recognized at all, especially on a neighbor island like Kaua’i. But whether you support statehood or not—and a few Hawaiian sovereignty groups do not, citing the illegal takeover of the Kingdom and the loss of much of the Hawaiian culture—the 50th anniversary of Hawai’i as a state is still news. 

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