It’s been 57 years since the youngest state entered the union — the longest stretch in which the U.S. has not added another state.
“On June 14, 1959, Boy Scout Milton Motooka helped get the word out for Hawaii’s statehood plebiscite to be held 13 days later. A new documentary will focus on Hawaii’s statehood.” Hawaiians voted yes in the plebiscite, and statehood was declared two months later. (Whatever became of Scout Motooka? See comments on last year’s post.)
“On June 14, 1959, Boy Scout Milton Motooka helped get the word out for Hawaii’s statehood plebiscite to be held 13 days later. A new documentary will focus on Hawaii’s statehood.” Hawaiians voted yes in the plebiscite, and statehood was declared two months later. (Whatever became of Scout Motooka?)
June’s plebiscite smoothed the path for statehood, declared two months later.
13-year-old paperboy Chester Kahapea happily hawks a commemorative edition of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin with the headline showing the state had achieved statehood after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the law authorizing Hawaii as a state. Star-Bulletin photo by Murray Befeler.
Hawaii’s official statehood day is August 21, commemorating the day in 1959 when Hawaii was recognized as a member of the union of the United States of America. Hawaiians should fly their flags to day in honor of the date (you may, too).
Hawaii formally celebrates the day on the third Friday in August, this year on the 19th. I hope you joined in the festivities (it’s a holiday in Hawaii) — but under the U.S. Flag Code, you may certainly fly your flags on August 21, regardless which day of the week that is.
Specimen copy of the ballot used by Hawaiians in a June 27, 1959, plebiscite to approve conditions of statehood. Image from Hawaii Magazine, 2009
After the U.S. annexed Hawaii in 1898 (in action separate from the Spanish-American War) attempts at getting Hawaii admitted as a state got rolling. After World War II, with the strategic importance of the islands firmly implanted in Americans’ minds, the project picked up some steam. Still, it was 14 years after the end of the war that agreements were worked out between the people of Hawaii, the Hawaiian royal family, Congress and the executive branch. The deal passed into law had to be ratified by a plebiscite among Hawaiian citizens. The proposition won approval with 94% of votes in favor.
Some native Hawaiian opposition to statehood arose later, and deference to those complaints has muted statehood celebrations in the 21st century.
Other than the tiny handful of loudmouth birthers, most Americans today are happy to have Hawaii as a state, the fifth richest in the U.S. by personal income. The nation has a lot of good and great beaches, but the idea of catching sun and surf in Hawaii on vacation might be considered an idealized part of the American dream.
“Loudmouth birthers?” Yeah, Barack Obama, our 45th President, was born in Hawaii in 1961. Some whiners think that, but for statehood, Obama would not have been a citizen eligible to be president. Hawaii is not good ground for growing sour grapes, though. Birth in a territory would probably be enough to make him eligible. Water under the bridge: Hawaii was a state in 1961. President Obama remains president.
U.S. and Hawaii flags flying together.
U.S. postage stamp issued in 2009 commemorating the 50th anniversary of Hawaii’s admission to the union.
Contrast the first class postage price above with the airmail postage price of this stamp issued in 1959 — August 21, 1959 7¢ Rose Hawaii Statehood stamp. Wikipedia image