Lingle Remarks on Hawai’i 50TH Anniversary of Statehood Conference New Horizons for the Next 50 Years

Remarks by Governor Linda Lingle at the Hawai’i 50TH Anniversary of Statehood Conference New Horizons for the Next 50 Years

Lt Governor and Mrs. Aiona, Governor Waihe‘e, Senator Akaka, Secretary Shinseki, Admiral Keating, members of the Hawai‘i State Legislature, flag officers, members of the Consular Corps, former Deputy Secretary of Energy Karsner, John Zogby, Bryan Clay, the 50th Anniversary of Statehood Commission, and the people of Hawai‘i.

Good morning and aloha!

I am truly honored to join you today to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Hawai‘i’s statehood.  This is an event I have looked forward to for over a year.

Half a century ago, on this very day, President Dwight Eisenhower signed a proclamation formalizing Hawai‘i’s Admission to the United States.

President Eisenhower spoke these words about America’s newest state:

“We will wish for her prosperity, security, happiness and a growing relationship with all the other states.  We know that she is ready to do her part to make this Union a stronger nation – a stronger people than it was before because of her presence as a full sister to the other 49 states.”

President Eisenhower’s hope for Hawai‘i’s future has become our reality.

We have created a quality of life that is admired by people all over the world.

The mere mention of Hawai‘i draws recognition that overcomes language and geographic barriers.

We are regarded as a true island paradise, where the unique hospitality of our people, abundant natural resources, diverse heritage and host culture set us apart from everywhere else on Earth.

And, while we have our share of challenges like the rest of the nation and the world, we are truly blessed to live in these islands.

The latest Gallup Healthways Well-being Index, which was released earlier this month, showed Hawai‘i leads the nation in well-being and happiness.  The annual survey measures how people are doing physically, emotionally, socially and economically.  Hawai‘i scored highest in the area of emotional health, which looks at items such as worry and stress, smiling or laughter, learning or doing something interesting, being treated with respect, enjoyment, and happiness.

Yes, “Lucky We Live Hawai‘i.”

Our superior quality of life is not something that happened by accident and it is not something we should ever take for granted.  It took a lot of hard work by people in this room and many others before us.

And it will take all of us, working side-by-side, to further raise our “well-being index.”

Perhaps our most important contribution to America is serving as a model of diversity for the rest of the nation.

Most would agree that our diversity and the way we celebrate that diversity is Hawai‘i’s greatest strength.  I believe it will also be our lasting legacy.

Political activist and University of Hawai‘i professor Ira Rohter, who passed away last month once said,

“We are a very complex society where we’ve learned to live together and move together in a positive way.  Hawai‘i is the prototype of how people can get along.  Hawai‘i is the prototype for the nation.”

We are a prototype in so many different ways.

Hawai‘i’s journey to statehood began decades before 1959.  It was not an easy journey.  It was a road marked by struggles and more than two dozen failed attempts to get the statehood bill passed in Congress.

The success in achieving the goal of becoming the 50th state is a true testament to the men and women who refused to give up.

Their vision of new social, political and economic opportunities for all the people of Hawai‘i is a lasting testament to their spirit and character that has been carried on by their children and grandchildren.

Your participation today in this conference honors those who fought so passionately for statehood, as well as those who carried forth that vision and worked to make our state and our nation stronger.

This never-give-up attitude is a common thread among Hawai‘i’s people –

from the “Go For Broke” Nisei who fought bravely in World War II …

to the people of Kaua‘i who pulled together to recover from Hurricane Iniki in 1992 …

to the ‘Ewa Beach Little League Team who fought from behind to win the 2005 Little League World Series…

to the Castle High graduate who became an Olympic Decathlon Gold Medalist …

to the hundreds of small business men and women across our state who endure economic cycles and find innovative ways remain the backbone of our economy.

And this common thread of never giving up will prepare us for our continued journey as a state, as we strive to transform our economy and secure our energy future.

We gather here today, on our 50th anniversary of Hawai’i becoming as state to reflect on our journey to statehood, the successes we have achieved over the past 50 years, as well as to explore what Hawai‘i means to the nation and the world.  And finally to discuss and develop a vision for our next 50 years.

The workshops this morning and this afternoon will explore our future in critical areas, such as:

Economic understanding;

The future of tourism;

Education and innovation;

Hawai‘i’s energy future;

Issues impacting the Native Hawaiian community;

Preserving Hawai‘i’s natural resources; and

Military partnerships, including a live video feed from Iraq so our troops who are deployed can participate in today’s dialogue, even though they are half a world away.

I look forward to hearing the fresh ideas and unique perspectives that will result from these meaningful discussions, from the keynote speakers and panelists, and, most especially from those of you in the audience.

The people of Hawai‘i have accomplished much over the past 50 years that we can all take great pride in, and looking ahead, there are so many possibilities and wonderful opportunities before us.

We are still a very young state, and with so much more to contribute to our people, our nation and the world.

The story of Hawai‘i’s future is yet to be written, and you can be the authors of that story.

Hawai‘i’s road to statehood was marked by differences of opinions … and our journey to the future will be similarly marked.

There will be divergent opinions during today’s conference.  We must use these differences as opportunities to learn from each other and to grow.

We must seize the passion, the enthusiasm and the energy that will be generated today, and weave it into a shared vision for tomorrow.

Regardless of our ethnic background, gender, economic status, religion, sexual orientation or age, most of us living here today will live out our lives and be laid to rest in these beautiful islands.

As I look out into the ballroom, I am struck by the diversity of our attendees.

Together, we make up the past, the present and the future of Hawai‘i.

Our various backgrounds, unique perspectives, individual hopes and dreams and the respect we have for one another are what makes our state so rich.


Being here with you today gives me great optimism for our next 50 years.

This conference is the first step on the road which will take us into Hawai‘i’s future.

Over the past year, we have watched and listened to “Fifty Voices of Statehood,” as community members across our state shared their personal perspectives on Hawai‘i’s statehood.

I want to thank the 50 participants as well as the students of Wai‘anae High School’s award-winning Searider Productions for assisting the Statehood Commission in taping those 50 spots for television and radio.

Danny Keleikini, Hawai‘i’s Ambassador of Aloha said in his Fifty Voices spot,

“Statehood gave us an opportunity to share aloha around the world.”

Today, we are not just sharing our aloha, or our love, for our state.  We are sharing our deepest thoughts and heartfelt hopes and dreams for our future.

I look forward to visiting with all of you throughout the day.

Mahalo to the Statehood Commission and best wishes for a great conference.

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