Today, the third Friday in August is observed as Statehood Day in Hawaii. For many years it was also known as Admission Day. The actual 53nd anniversary of Hawaii statehood is on Sunday, August 21.
When I say "observed," I say so somewhat sarcastically, since, if you're in Hawaii today, you probably won't even notice that it's an official state holiday. Aside from state employees getting the day off and an article or two in the local papers, Statehood Day is Hawaii's forgotten holiday.
That's not particularly surprising or even unusual. I doubt that many of us could tell when our own state was admitted to the Union. Even in 2009, when Hawaii celebrated 50 years of statehood, the celebrations were quite tempered.
Such was not always the case. When Hawaii residents were asked to vote on statehood in June of 1959, over 94% of the voters said "yes for statehood." There were large celebrations across the state.
A lot has happened in the last 52 years and, while a majority of Hawaii residents still overwhelmingly support statehood, there are those, particularly in the native Hawaiian community, who do not - or who have, for many years, been seeking a different arrangement. Many of the issues are very controversial and, in large part, that is why Statehood Day has become a forgotten holiday.
Over the years, I have written several times about Hawaii Statehood. My goal has always been to give island visitors a brief overview of how Hawaii came to be our country's 50th State and where things stand today.
In our feature Admission Day in Hawaii we look back on an article written by W. H. Lawrence for the New York Times on August 21, 1959.
In our feature written to mark the 50th Anniversary of Hawaii Statehood we trace the road to statehood from 1893-1959.
Finally, in our feature Statehood Day - Hawaii's Forgotten Holiday we look at how and, some of the reasons, why the holiday has become largely unobserved.