Music, dignitaries to mark half-century of statehood


POSTED: Monday, March 16, 2009

Musical entertainment and a lineup of guests who had roles in Hawaii's recent history will be featured at a Wednesday celebration of the 50th anniversary of statehood.

The state Legislature will convene in a special joint session in the state Capitol House chambers to mark the date, March 18, 1959, when President Dwight Eisenhower signed into law the Hawaii Admission Act.

The event, from noon to 1:30 p.m., is open to the public. It will be shown live on a webcast at www.hawaii.gov/statehood.

Gov. Linda Lingle, state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa and House Speaker Calvin Say will speak.

Also expected to attend are Hawaii's former governors and their wives, including Gov. Ben Cayetano and wife Vicky; Gov. John Waihee and wife Lynn; Gov. George Ariyoshi and wife Jean; retired Judge Jim Burns, son of the late Gov. John A. Burns; and Nancy Quinn, widow of Gov. William Quinn. Current and former members of the Hawaii congressional delegation were invited, as well as former legislators from 1959.

The 111th Army Band will perform at 11:30 a.m. in the Capitol Rotunda, and at 11:55 a.m. two Hawaii Air National Guard F-15s will fly over the Capitol. Singers Danny Kaleikini and Danny Couch will be joined by Kalakaua Middle School eighth-grader Arshiel Calatrava in a musical tribute to statehood.

Following the joint session, docents will lead walking tours of the Honolulu Capitol Cultural District. Free maps showing Honolulu's historical landmarks will be available for self-guided tours.

“;We should all step back and look at this milestone as an incredible achievement,”; said Kippen de Alba Chu, chairman of the 50th Anniversary of Statehood Commission. The commission has planned a yearlong series of events to mark the anniversary.

After the bill to allow Hawaii to join the union was passed by Congress and signed by the president, Hawaii voters approved statehood on June 27, 1959. On Aug. 21, 1959, Eisenhower made statehood official by signing a proclamation declaring Hawaii the 50th state.