LIHUE — Celebrating Independence Day is a 241-year-old tradition unlike any other. And, according to a study, there aren’t many better places to celebrate America’s July 4 birthday than Hawaii.
“I came from the Mainland and the way that Hawaii celebrates the Fourth of July over here is a little different,” said Lihue resident Manuel Manzo. “The fireworks, firecrackers, parades, festivities at the beach, there’s a lot more activities for sure.”
Hawaii is ranked as the seventh-most patriotic state in the United States in a recent study from personal finance website WalletHub.
Manzo said Independence Day is a great opportunity for Americans to show appreciation for what they have.
“Living in this country is very important for all the freedoms that we have and continuing the way of life that we’ve become accustomed to,” he said.
Defining what it means to be patriotic was a point of emphasis in the study. WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez explained that it looked at everything from veteran populations to voter turnout and volunteer rates, including an analysis of the state’s military and civic engagement.
“Hawaii’s ‘military engagement’ ranked second highest in the country,” Gonzalez said. “Hawaii has the highest number of active-duty military personnel at 4,293 per 100,000 civilians and the second-highest percentage of civilians in the Reserves at just under 1 percent.”
Virginia, Alaska, Wyoming, South Carolina, Colorado and Washington ranked ahead of Hawaii in WalletHub’s study, in that order. Some Kauai residents that TGI spoke with were surprised to hear the Aloha State ranked so high in terms of national pride, with one resident asking, “But what about Hawaiians?”
When asked if the data from the study is surprising due to Hawaii’s melting pot of cultures, including the presence of Native Hawaiians and other ethnicities, Gonzalez said that wasn’t the case.
“Not at all. Being patriotic does not mean being a white American, and I think Hawaii exemplifies that perfectly,” she said.
An upcoming celebration will also be an occasion to celebrate about the tradition and actions currently being made by Hawaiians to restore the Hawaii’s sovereignty. La Hoi Hoi Ea (Sovereignty Restoration Day) takes place Saturday at Kauai Community College.
Whatever the reasons for patriotism, Fourth of July is a time for both celebration and relaxation for many Kauai residents, such as May Goias. Goias takes the opportunity to spend time with her family and appreciate what this country has done for her family over the years.
“I just like to relax and watch the fireworks from my back yard,” she said. “Fourth of July means a lot of things: It means freedom and just being an American. And we take it for granted at times, a lot of times.”
Knowing that Tuesday’s holiday will be a busy one around Lihue, Jonathan Williams doesn’t want to deal with the hassle of commuting.
“I stay home. Less traffic, less humbugs on the roads,” he said. “But I celebrate on my own with my family, of course. It’s very important to celebrate Independence Day.”
Nicole Balbarino of Lihue said while the holiday is the perfect opportunity for families to hang out together, it’s much more than an excuse to grill hot dogs.
“It’s a time where we can all get together and celebrate the greatness of America and its history and how far we’ve come from, from getting established to where we are now,” Balbarino said. “It’s a great reminder of all America’s achievements.”
It’s a tradition Thelma Pascual enjoys participating in because its symbols the “birth of the country.”
And David Pratt, the head of Island School, likes to celebrate in Kokee, where it’s nice and cool.
When asked why he thinks Hawaii is so patriotic, Pratt said, “I think it has to do with what’s left over from World War II.”