Isle congressmen
stick up for king’s statue

Hawaii's congressmen want the naked truth to be told about the statue of a Hawaiian king standing in the U.S. Capitol's famed Statuary Hall.

Reps. Ed Case and Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, sent a letter yesterday to Capitol officials requesting the correction of the "highly insulting" myths about the golden-cloaked King Kamehameha statue and to notify that the emperor, unlike the fairy tale, indeed was clothed -- contrary to the story being told by tour guides.

In what has become an urban legend, congressional guides, recently captured on home video by a vacationing KITV-4 reporter, tell tourists that Kamehameha arrived to Washington unclothed. They say that because the statue's nudity upset Congress, it had to be returned to Hawaii to be clothed.

"My first reaction was, 'Where did that story come from and how long has it been told?'" Case said. "I can imagine someone thought it up and people took it as the gospel truth. I wondered if this was an isolated incident or if the story was being told over a long time."

The bronze statue -- a replica of two statues in Hawaii -- stands nearly 10 feet tall and is the heaviest of the sculptures on display in the Capitol, weighing 15,000 pounds. It was dedicated in April 1969.

"King Kamehameha I is by far the most prominent figure in the history of Hawaii," the congressmen said in a statement. "Please understand that any slight to the statue, however innocent, can easily be perceived as a slight upon Kamehameha, native Hawaiians, Hawaii, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders and minorities everywhere."

Case and Abercrombie have also requested to have the statue moved from its current, relatively hidden corner of Statuary Hall to a more prominent location.

Part of the story the guides tell is that the statue was put in the corner as punishment for being scantily clad.

Case said he would not have made an issue out of the story had it been an isolated incident.

"However, our staff observed two other staff members of other offices making comparable remarks to the effect that the Kamehameha statue was 'sent back three times because he was morally indecent' and he was 'put in the back because he was naked,'" a statement from Case's office said.

Capitol officials were not available for comment late yesterday.


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