Friday, August 21, 2009

Hawai'i 5-0

Now Company, I would suspect that you are not as versed in the history of Hawai'i as I am. The reason that I know so much about the great state and former sovereign nation is that one of my Unpaid Interns has a father who is the foremost expert in Hawai'ian history at Santa Clara Community College and I made him talk about it all the time. So there. Anyway, being the Hawai'ian history buff that I am I can tell you that today marks the 50th Anniversary of the Hawai'i's admission to the Union.
And it has been a bit of a tumultuous relationship between Uncle Sam and the beautiful Hawai'ian Princess. It all began at the wedding. See, the Hawai'ian Princess had a bit of an independent streak to her, okay? She was single, she was among the prettiest of the mid-Pacific nations, and she was in high demand. I mean, who wouldn't want to stop and load their ship with coal and provisions somewhere as beautiful as Hawai'i, right? So everybody wanted a piece, but not all those who tried succeeded. Just ask James Cook. He died on the sandy beach on the Big Island in 1799, and all he was trying to do was fix his sail and get a stolen boat back. On the Islands themselves, while there were plenty who supported statehood, there was a small but important vocal minority that included most native Hawai'ians that were opposed to the union.
It's not like there was complete agreement on the side of Uncle Sam, either, okay? So let's just settle down. While the initial attraction and infatuation may have been hot and heavy, when the time came to tie the knot of statehood Uncle Sam drug his feet an awful lot. I mean, he thought what they had was great, she was hot and he got to have the beautiful Hawai'ian Princess on his arm at all the UN functions, so who can blame him? It was all the benefit without all that nasty commitment. The opposition to statehood was led on the mainland by the southern Democrats, who were not fans of the large Asian and Pacific Islander segments of the Hawai'ian population, and others who somehow got the idea into their heads that Communism was running rampant in the Islands. It took a lot of convincing from a lot of the right people from the Islands in order to bring those on the mainland around.
And so it went down, the two sides hooked up: white bearded Uncle Sam with his giant hat and the beautiful Hawai'ian Princess with her harbor of pearls and flaming hot volcanic peaks. It hasn't always been a harmonious marriage, however. While both sides can say that they have come out pretty well in this deal; Hawai'i has one of the largest tourist economies in the world in part because Americans can travel there domestically, and she has received a lot of federal money for infrastructure, improvements, etc and America has had an important outpost in the middle of the vast Pacific for its military and civilian travel uses, there have still been hard times. While any opposition to having Hawai'i as a state has faded over time on the mainland, there is still a formidable section of the Hawai'ian population that is dead set opposed to statehood, even fifty years on. I would expect, being the Hawai'i expert that I am, for there to be protests at the 50th Anniversary celebrations, but I would expect them the be orderly and peaceful. This isn't a violent-style confrontation, it is much more civil than that.
So anyway, Happy 50th Anniversary Hawai'i. I know you've been around as a political entity for much, much longer than that, but still happy 50th as a state. I, for one, am glad to have you on board. And I am pretty excited too because I never thought I'd see such a young anniversary when it came to a state. I can't wait for Alaska next year.

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