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.