Wednesday, March 26, 2008

In Honor of Prince Kuhio

Today, Hawaii celebrates Kuhio Day, in honor of Prince Kuhio. Rep. Roland Sagum (District 16 - Niihau, Lehua, Koloa, Waimea) prepared this speech that is scheduled to be given this morning on Kauai:

"Aloha and Good Morning! It is a great honor for me to be here today. I want to thank the Royal Order of Kamehameha for inviting me to be part of this celebration.

As a Hawaiian, born on Kauai, Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole has always been an inspiration to me. When I decided to run for public office, Prince Kuhio also became an important role model.

Prince Kuhio served as our U.S. Congressman in Washington from 1903 until his death in 1922. I have often thought how difficult it must have been for him to leave these islands, especially after the overthrow of the Hawaiian government under Queen Liliuokalani, the very government under which Kuhio was an heir apparent.

Despite the overthrow, Prince Kuhio was destined to become a leader of the Hawaiian people. Even though the throne was denied to him, he did not run away. He chose public office, and he accomplished great things for Hawaii that are still relevant today.

For one thing, he instituted local government at the County level, creating the County system that we still have today.

He gave native Hawaiians an opportunity to serve in civil service positions.

And his crowning achievement, less than a year before his death, was the creation of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, which was signed into law by President Warren G. Harding in 1921.

Today, as we honor Kalanianaole, I want to focus on his role as a public servant.

This is my first term in public office as your state representative for District 16, which includes Koloa, Waimea, Niihau and Lehua.

Going back and forth from Kauai to Honolulu for the legislative session is not easy, so I can only imagine what it must have been like for Prince Kuhio serving in Congress in the days when the transportation choices were by boat and by train.

He must have been like a fish out of water in Washington DC in the early 1900's. Still, he persevered.

He is a very important role model for me because I see Prince Kuhio as someone who set aside his personal losses and elevated public service as the main goal of his life.

He was driven to accomplish great things, not for himself, not for royalty, but for the people of Hawaii.

In the political world, sometimes we lose sight of why we are there. Like Kuhio, we must persevere not for our own goals, but to serve the people, and to preserve Hawaii for future generations.

This is an inspiration for me as a Representative in the State Legislature, and for all of us as we celebrate Prince Kuhio on his birthday, and as we work together to honor the vision he laid out for Hawaii so many years ago.

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