Today is Statehood Day, formerly Admissions Day, annually celebrated on the third Friday of August. On March 18, 1959, President Eisenhower signed the Admission Act, dissolving the Territory of Hawaii and establishing the State of Hawaii as the fiftieth state of the union.
Did you know that the Admission Act is also considered the first civil rights legislation enacted by Congress after World War II? That's because the Act extended all American citizen's rights to a territory with a non-white majority. In a couple of years, Hawaii will also celebrate its 50th anniversary of statehood. This year, the legislature passed HB1352, establishing a commission to plan for the historic event.
Photo: Honolulu Star Bulletin, August 19, 2006
Statehood is not without controversy. It was one year ago today that a conflict occured on the grounds of Iolani Palace when a statehood celebration was interrupted by native Hawaiian groups protesting the inappropriateness of recognizing statehood at the "scene of a crime". They referred to the stealing of the Hawaiian government in 1893 when Hawaii was annexed to the United States and the emprisonment of Queen Liliuokalani in her own room at the palace.
Hawaii songwriter Harry Owens even wrote a statehood song:
Hawaii is the fiftieth star in the U.S.A.
Aloha means how joyful we are
For at last we are brothers today
We know that you’ll be happy
When Hawaii falls in line
We sing a song of gladness as we
Join the forty-nine.