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Commemorating 50 Years of Statehood

In recognition of President Dwight D. Eisenhower signing a bill on March 18, 1959, that allowed Hawai`i to be admitted as a state, the 50th Anniversary of Hawai`i Statehood Commission will host a commemorative event at the Hawai`i State Capitol on March 18, 2009.

Commemorating 50 Years of Statehood

The front page of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin's March 12, 1959 edition. Photo courtesy of Honolulu Advertiser archives.

The event will include a special joint session of the Legislature, with remarks from Governor Lingle, House Speaker Calvin Say and Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, as well as musical performances by Danny Kaleikini, Danny Couch and newcomer Arshiel Calatrava, who will help tell the fascinating story of Hawai‘i’s road to statehood. This historic gathering will be broadcast live on the Statehood website starting at noon. Residents can also watch the ceremony live on Olelo, channel 49.

The public is also invited to enjoy various historical displays and a performance by the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band in the Capitol Rotunda, as well as an F-15 flyover of the Capitol by the Hawai`i Air National Guard, starting at 11:30 a.m.

In addition, as part of the Commission's efforts to highlight Hawai`i's rich culture and history throughout the year, a special Walking Tour of 50 Years will be available. The tour will provide an in-depth look at the incredible history found in Hawai`i's downtown capital cultural district, including `Iolani Palace, the State Capitol, Washington Place, the Hawai`i State Art Museum, the Hawai`i Theater, Chinatown and many other historic locations. In addition to guided tours, maps featuring the history of these locations will be available.

Mary (Dodi) Brown reads the March 12, 1959 edition of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

The Hawai`i Statehood Bill was passed by the U.S. Senate on March 11 and the U.S. House of Representatives on March 12, 1959. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the bill into law on March 18, 1959. On June 27, 1959, a plebiscite was held to allow Hawai`i residents to ratify the congressional vote for statehood.  The "yes for statehood" garnered 94.3 percent (132,773 votes) while the "no" ballots totaled 5.7 percent (7,971 votes). President Eisenhower made Hawai`i Statehood official by signing the proclamation that welcomed Hawai`i as the 50th state of the union on August 21, 1959.

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