Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023 |
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PO‘IPU — Is it “Admissions Day” or “Statehood Day?” Ron Wiley, the KQNG Radio on-air personality wanted to know.
The website Go Hawai‘i said the third Friday in August is Statehood Day, formerly called Admission Day, although no date, or reason, is provided for when the observance’s name was changed.
On Aug. 29, 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill making Hawai‘i the 50th state.
“I was working at my first job at Lihu‘e Plantation,” said Yoshiko “Dimples” Kano of the Kaua‘i United Way at its launch of the 69th Annual Campaign. “We had a meeting about the Lihu‘e Shopping Center (that Lihu‘e Plantation built), but it was short because nobody’s mind was on work after we found out. We didn’t do anything special, but there was a feeling of celebration in the air.”
The Lihu‘e Shopping Center is currently known as the Lihu‘e Civic Center.
During his 1952 presidential campaign, Eisenhower had advocated for the admission of Alaska and Hawai‘i to the Union, but recommended adding Hawai‘i first.
Congress favored admitting Alaska first because the Alaskan oil would be beneficial to the nation’s economy, states the History.com website.
Alaska became a state in January 1959, and eight months later, the opposition of incorporating Hawai‘i’s pre-dominantly non-white population into the Union was overcome and Hawai‘i joined the Union.
“I was in Tucson, Arizona,” said Wiley. “My neighborhood was not happy because we just lost the distinction of being the youngest state status. I guess it was meant to be that I move to Hawai‘i so I could continue to live in the youngest state.”
Gov. William Quinn, in Washington, D.C., was expected to call back to Hawai‘i the minute the House of Representatives passed the statehood bill, states a Mar. 12, 1959 article in the Honolulu Advertiser.
The bill had already passed the Senate, and if it passed the House, “this will mean that Hawai‘i is in,” the article stated, while encouraging people to hula-ing in the streets if so desired.
At 10:04 a.m., the U.S. House of Representatives voted 323 to 89 in favor of granting statehood to Hawai‘i.
“I was in the sixth grade at Kapa‘a Elementary School,” said Mike Kano, retired from the Kaua‘i Fire Department and a leader with the Kaua‘i United Way. “We went to the park and had a field day.”
Vianne Tabata said she remembers they moved to Kaua‘i in 1959.
Hawai‘i had been annexed to the United States in 1989 and became a territory two years later.
“I was in the eighth grade at the Elsie Wilcox Elementary School in 1959,” said John Wada of FM97. “We were only the second graduating class from the school, which stands where it is today, and when we got the news, everyone went over to the Lihu‘e County Park, marched around the park and ended with a field day.”
Although Eisenhower signed the bill making Hawai‘i the 50th state on Aug. 21, 1959, the observance is celebrated on the third Friday in August, a holiday for state and county governments, public schools and the University of Hawai‘i.
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