Governor Lingle's First Statehood Day Message to the People of Hawai'i August 15, 2003

On August 15, 2003 the Governor of the State of Hawai'i, Linda Lingle, issued a message on the occasion of Statehood Day (formerly known as Admission Day). This was her first Statehood Day since taking office as Governor. Her message relied heavily upon the words of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose recent speech to a joint session of Congress had cited some of the reasons why Americans should feel entitled to proclaim their pride in being Americans. It is interesting that Governor Lingle's rambling message dwells on a foreigner's speech telling Americans why they should be proud to be Americans, rather than directly telling our own people of Hawai'i in her own words why we should celebrate our status as a state. Governor Lingle mentioned "equality" only once, and did not mention "unity" or "aloha" at all. Perhaps that's because she strongly favors and actively lobbies for the Native Hawaiian Recognition bill, and realizes that legislation establishing a race-based government to protect racially exclusionary benefits is not consistent with equality, unity, or aloha for all. Governor Cayetano's message on August 16, 2002 was much stronger, more personal, and considerably shorter and to the point. Governor Cayetano's message can be seen at:

Below is Governor Lingle's Statehood Day message of August 15, 2003, which was published only in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin in the form of a letter to editor, and not published on the state website. Much later, Governor Lingle's Statehood Day message for 2003 was finally published on the governor's website at a weird URL where it cannot be found except by doing a Google search:

Interestingly, the Governor apparently did not issue any Statehood Day message at all for 2004 -- at least, no such message appeared on the Governor's website nor in any of the Hawai'i newspapers, and she did not make any statement to the press that was reported on TV or radio.

Here's the message for 2003 as originally published in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin:

Admission Day message
Gov. Linda Lingle
Lt. Gov. James R. "Duke" Aiona
Friday, August 15, 2003

Itís a day to reflect on Statehoodís gifts

When Hawaii became the 50th state of the union on Aug. 21, 1959, the vast majority of people in the islands greeted the news with joy and jubilation. As we mark the anniversary of that momentous occasion, it is a good time to remind ourselves of what it means to be an American.

The United States of America is a great nation not because of moral superiority or by accident, but because of the principles on which it is built and because so many men and women have sacrificed so much to defend those principles.

Liberty, equality and justice for all are more than just words in America -- they are the foundation on which our lives are built. Americans are free to chart and achieve their own destinies, no matter how great the dream or humble the origins.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, addressing Congress recently, extolled the virtues of democracy and suggested that our preference for liberty is not unique.

"There is a myth that though we love freedom, others don't; that our attachment to freedom is a product of our culture; that freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law are American values, or Western values; that Afghan women were content under the lash of the Taliban; that Saddam was somehow beloved by his people; that Milosevic was Serbia's savior. Members of Congress, ours are not Western values, they are the universal values of the human spirit. And anywhere, any time ordinary people are given the chance to choose, the choice is the same: freedom, not tyranny; democracy, not dictatorship; the rule of law, not the rule of the secret police."

Of course, he is right. Freedom, democracy and the rule of law should be considered basic to human dignity. Billions of people around the world yearn for what we Americans enjoy each day.

Americans don't always agree on the issues, but that's OK. We know we can speak freely and openly and even criticize our leaders, all without fear of retribution. Relatively few people around the world can say this.

Because many Americans don't like to boast, the basis of our pride is sometimes most easily expressed by others. Again, we quote Prime Minister Blair's remarks to Congress:

"Tell the world why you're proud of America. Tell them when "The Star-Spangled Banner" starts, Americans get to their feet, Hispanics, Irish, Italians, Central Europeans, East Europeans, Jews, Muslims, white, Asian, black, those who go back to the early settlers and those whose English is the same as some New York cab drivers I've dealt with, but whose sons and daughters could run for this Congress. Tell them why Americans, one and all, stand upright and respectful -- not because some state official told them to, but because whatever race, color, class or creed they are, being American means being free. That's why they're proud."

As you observe Statehood Day, we encourage you to read Blair's words to your children, or to your neighbor's children. Express from your heart and personal experience what these words mean. Help the youth of our community understand not just the legacy that they have inherited, but also the responsibility to keep it alive. Help them to appreciate what it means to be an American.


GO BACK TO: HAWAI'I STATEHOOD -- The History of the Struggle to Achieve Statehood, and Current Challenges. See a lengthy list of the positive steps toward Hawai'i Statehood spanning 110 years, from 1849-1959. See also two competing resolutions in the Legislature of 2002, one pro-Statehood and one anti-Statehood.