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John Fischer

When a Shaka Brings a Tear to the Eye - President Obama Greets the Punahou Marching Band

By January 20, 2009

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I have to admit that it brought a tear to my eye today when I saw our new president, Barack Obama, make a shaka sign as the Punahou Marching Band passed by the reviewing stand at the White House at the start of the Inaugural parade. How far has the United States come in such short a time. How appropriate that in the year that Hawaii will celebrate the 50th anniversary of statehood, the first Hawaii-born American becomes the 44th President of the United States?

As we stated in our feature Barack Obama's Hawaii, "Barack Obama is the perfect representative of what Hawaii is all about. Hawaii is the most racially diverse society in America. The people of Hawaii are Hawaiian, Polynesian, Caucasian, African-American, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Portuguese, Mexican and, most importantly, a mix of any of those races. Spending his formative years in such a mixed society has made Barack Obama the man he is today. It gives him the very rare ability to relate to the country's ever increasingly diverse society."

An Obama presidency can only be good for Hawaii. For too long Hawaii has been far removed from the mainland 48 states. I shudder whenever I'm in Hawaii and hear a visitor asked where he or she is from and hear the reply, "from the United States." Hawaii is part of the United States!

If President Obama's election helps Hawaii tourism rebound from its current catastrophic decline, all the better. If President Obama's election shows people that there is indeed a multi-racial, multi-cultural society in America that has, for the most part, worked well for years, then Hawaii will truly have benefited from Barack Obama's presidency.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images
January 20, 2009 at 6:05 pm
(1) Ralf Simon says:

What a moment … anyone has a picture / capture from Obama makking the shaka ? Need to make my own bumpersticker from that. Mahalo from Upcountry Maui, Ralf

January 20, 2009 at 6:20 pm
(2) Proud Hawaiian says:

I as well would love a picture of Obama’s shaka to the Punahou Marching Band. By doing this, he demonstrated his pride, appreciation and cultural connection to Hawaii. This was a gesture of respect. Mahalo Obama for paying homage to where you came from.

January 20, 2009 at 6:36 pm
(3) Nathan Kam says:

John…quite a proud moment to see the President flash the shaka sign. It’s been an amazing day. More fun to come in Hawaii this evening. A hui hou!

January 20, 2009 at 6:45 pm
(4) happy9irl says:

Awesome write-up and comments! I felt such a sense of pride when he and his family flashed those shakas. It’s such a simple gesture but it means so much. Mahala & Aloha from Hawaii!
Here’s a link to some pics of it:

January 21, 2009 at 1:26 pm
(5) beth (20birds) says:

i too posted a photo on my blog today. My mother is 83 years old, was born and raised in Kapaa, Kauai… traveled the world with my Dad, a texas good ol’ boy serving as an Army major. She lives with me and my family in frozen NW Ontario now, but she wept with joy when President Obama flashed the shaka greeting.

January 23, 2009 at 8:48 am
(6) MAPR says:

I was a great day indeed.

Even though I am a haole, I have had a lifelong aloha for Hawai’i, her culture, people and royal heritage, and am now fortunate enough to now travel there to help the state’s keiki, it was a very proud moment indeed. I live a stone’s throw from the White House and know through 24/7 media that he has surrounded himself with a great team to lead this country and help all of us. It gives global meaning to “Living Aloha”

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