The third Friday in August is Hawaii Statehood Day, to celebrate the day when Hawaii was officially admitted into the Union as its 50th state, in 1959. The day has come with a bit of controversy and debate to it, with some locals believing that there should be large celebrations on this day, and others pushing for this holiday to be observed as a silent day. There are also some who believe that this holiday is culturally insensitive to native Hawaiians.
Hawaii Statehood Day is a public holiday in Hawaii, which means that schools and some businesses remain closed.
Attempts to make Hawaii into a state of the Union began in 1849. During the Spanish-American War, in 1898, the United States annexed Hawaii for strategic purposes and kept Hawaii as a military command post during World War II. After the war, a majority of the population was in favor of Hawaii becoming a state of the United States, but many natives were against the illegal acquisition of Hawaii by the United States and were in favor of Hawaiian sovereignty. There was also some resistance from the southern states of the USA, as they were still segregated, and Hawaii was very ethnically diverse.
Many statehood bills were introduced for Hawaii through the years, the first in 1919 by Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole. It was only in 1959 that Congress approved the statehood bill, after a referendum where 94% of Hawaiian residents voted in favor of Hawaii becoming a state, and on August 21, 1959, Hawaii was officially admitted as the 50th state of the Union by President Eisenhower.
The first celebration of this day took place in 1969, and the holiday was known as Admission Day until 2001 when the name was changed to Hawaii Statehood Day.
How Hawaii Statehood Day is Celebrated
Because it is such a controversial day, Hawaii Statehood Day is mainly observed as a silent holiday, meaning that there are no big events to commemorate it. When a State Senator attempted to have a small celebration in the Iolani Palace, a group of protesters attended the event to demonstrate their unhappiness with the celebration of this holiday.
Because it is a day off for most of the population, many people get together on the beaches and parks with friends and family to enjoy their time off work and school.