Friday, August 21, 2009

Hawaii Statehood

Today celebrates the 50th anniversary of Hawaii becoming the 50th state of the United States of America. Statehood was attained on August 21, 1959.

As I was researching to write about something musical for Hawaii, I looked at Aloha 'Oe, one of the best known Hawaiian songs. It was written by Queen Lili'uokalani in 1878 about the parting of lovers. Queen Lili'uokalani (1838-1917) was the last reigning monarch of the Hawaiian Islands, reiginig 1891-1893. The Queen wrote more than 150 songs during her lifetime. I was suprised to learn that Aloha 'Oe is not the state song of Hawaii.

Instead, the state song is Hawai'i Pono'i. The standard translation is, "Hawaii's own true sons, be loyal to your chief." The words were written by King David Kalakaua, with the music written by Professor Henry Berger, the Royal Bandmaster. Hawai'i Pono'i served as the national anthem for the Kingdom of Hawaii from 1876 to the end of the kingdom in 1893. It was adopted as the official state song by the state legislature of Hawaii in 1967, and it links the proud heritage of Hawaii with its statehood.

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