Hawaii's aloha a beacon to light a troubled world
Amid the frantic hustle and bustle of this time of year, we want to take this opportunity to wish all Hawaii residents and visitors a safe and joyous holiday season.
This time of year brings out the best in all of us as we celebrate with family, friends and business associates, and reflect on the year that has just gone by while looking forward to the possibilities that lie ahead.
The global community started 2005 with heavy hearts following the devastating tsunami in South Asia. In our own country, lives were shattered along the Gulf Coast as Hurricane Katrina left a path of destruction and unimaginable anguish. But from adversity, we draw strength. We saw an outpouring of humanity and compassion more powerful than the forces of nature. We saw the world come together with simple acts of kindness, prayer and generosity. And as always, Hawaii residents showed their aloha and continue to give from their hearts to ease the pain of our fellow Americans in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
This past year we celebrated freedom as the citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq went to the polls in great numbers, and under great risk, to show their commitment to democracy and peace. We are eternally grateful for those in uniform, especially our own military personnel from Hawaii, who sacrificed so much to secure a more democratic future for these people and all people around the world. And we are grateful for the aloha our troops continue to extend to Iraqi citizens, whether building schools and providing school supplies and toys through "Operation Crayon," delivering shoes and clothing to Iraqi children in Anaconda or teaching Iraqi children how to flash a shaka -- and teaching them the true aloha spirit behind it.
This holiday season we are fortunate to have some of our brave citizen soldiers from Hawaii back with their families after a 12-month deployment to the Middle East. But we cannot forget the sacrifices of those who remain overseas, and we pray for their continued safety and eagerly anticipate their return early next year.
This also was a year when Hawaii's economy continued its record expansion, bolstering the quality of life for many of our citizens. However, we know that not all residents have been able to share in this prosperity. The needs of those less fortunate remain great. We as a community must continue to work together to find meaningful solutions to ease the burden of our fellow residents who are struggling to cope with homelessness, the rising cost of housing, and drug and alcohol abuse.
Together, we are one ohana and we will continue to strive for the day when these problems are dramatically reduced.
Last month, Hawaii received national recognition for the diversity we take for granted every day. Hawaii was awarded the 2005 Diversity Government Leadership Award. It reminded the world that people of different races, cultures, backgrounds and beliefs can embrace differences and celebrate diversity to create stronger communities and equal opportunities for all people.
Finally, this was a year that perhaps can best be reflected in the accomplishments of our own Little League baseball teams, who for the incredible summer of 2005 brought hope, inspiration and great pride to our state. These young champions, together with their coaches and families, reminded us of the importance of never giving up. They pursued a dream, employed teamwork, commitment, humility and sportsmanship, and in the end turned their goals into a reality.
As we celebrate the holidays and look forward to fulfilling our dreams in 2006, let us always remember the special qualities that make living in Hawaii so dear, especially our caring aloha spirit!
From our ohana to yours, we wish you all the best this holiday season and a new year filled with joy, peace, prosperity, good health and the comfort of knowing we live in the greatest place on earth.
Mele Kalikimaka a me ka Hauoli Makahiki Hou!
Linda Lingle is governor and James R. "Duke" Aiona Jr. is lieutenant governor of Hawaii.