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Statement by Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono of Hawaii in Support of H. Con. Res. 105


Location: Washington, DC

Mr. Speaker,

Aloha. I rise today in support of H. Con. Res. 105, which authorizes the use of Emancipation Hall in the Capitol Visitor's Center for the annual Kamehameha Day Lei Draping on June 24, 2012.

The event has been held on or around June 11th to coincide with the celebration of Kamehameha Day, a state holiday in Hawaii. The Kamehameha Day Lei Draping has been hosted by the Hawaii Congressional delegation and the Hawaii State Society of Washington D.C. since 1969; it parallels the lei draping ceremonies taking place at the Kamehameha statues on the islands of Oahu and Hawaii.

Commonly believed to be born in about 1758, Kamehameha came from a family of alii (chiefs) on the island of Hawaii and was raised to become a skilled warrior in the traditional ways of combat. In 1778, as a young man, Kamehameha met the world-renowned navigator, Captain James Cook, the first European to visit Hawaii. Kamehameha later led a successful campaign for control of his native island of Hawaii and subsequently conquered the islands of Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, and Oahu. With the agreement by King Kaumualii of Kauai to accept Kamehameha's rule in 1810, the island chain became a united kingdom for the first time. The islands became known collectively as Hawaii from that point on.

Under Kamehameha's reign, the islands became more involved in international commerce and a center for the sandalwood trade. As his kingdom opened up to the world and began adopting many western ways, Kamehameha remained an ardent defender of traditional Hawaiian culture and way of life, including restoring sacred sites. In the words of famed British explorer Captain George Vancouver, King Kamehameha was a man with "an open, cheerful and sensible mind; combined with great generosity of disposition." Greatly mourned at the time of his passing in 1819, he continues to be revered in Hawaii and remains a respected historical figure today. A holiday in his honor was decreed by Kamehameha V, his great-grandson, in 1871.

This year marks the 43rd year of the annual Kamehameha Lei Draping Ceremony, which brings together people from Hawaii from all over the Washington area. Many also travel from the islands to take part in this beautiful showcase of traditional Hawaiian culture, including hula performances, traditional Hawaiian music, and honorary chants.

This yearly celebration would not be possible without the help and assistance of the outstanding staff of the Committee on House Administration, the Office of the Architect of the Capitol, and the Office of the Sergeant At Arms. We thank them again for their support this year.

A concurrent resolution must be passed to authorize the use of the space for this event due to the Kamehameha statue location in Emancipation Hall.

I urge my colleagues to support H. Con. Res. 105.

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