HONOLULU—At today’s inauguration ceremony held on the Iolani Palace grounds, hundreds sat in the heat to bid farewell to the State of Hawaii’s previous guard and usher in Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s promise of a “new day” for the islands.
“On this day in Hawaii we begin our work on building a sustainable prosperity that can be enjoyed today and for generations to come,” Abercrombie said. “We will make investments in the capabilities of our people, and we will build strong communities based on our core values of compassion and unity.”
In the background, sealed off at the palace gates, dozens of protesters adorned in black as a demonstration of mourning condemned the ceremony, hollering, “Shame on you, this is the Queen’s palace.”
The protesters said that having the inauguration on the grounds of Iolani Palace, the most recognizable and enduring symbol of the Hawaiian nation, constitutes as an act of disrespect and desecration of the historic and sacred site. Protest organizers called the inauguration ceremony “an affront to the royals and subjects whose nation was summarily stolen from them in 1893, and a senseless act of provocation to the Hawaiian people of today.”
Leon Siu of Aiea, also present at the protest, wrote in a letter to the Star-Advertiser: “The planners for last year’s 50th anniversary of statehood deemed it would be insensitive to use Iolani Palace to stage a celebratory event for the jubilee. The concern was it would be offensive to Hawaiians who contend Hawaii is still a sovereign nation and Iolani Palace sacred ground. So wouldn’t using the palace on Monday to inaugurate the next governor of Hawaii be just as insensitive? Why would the state refrain from causing an affront one year, then cause an affront just as egregious the next? For Neil Abercrombie to start his term with such an insult to the already injured Hawaiian community would be very bad form.”
Last August, at Hawaii’s 50th statehood anniversary, the Statehood Commission, a group in charge of planning the festivities, held a “low-key” event—eliminating initial plans for a parade and party, as was held for Alaska’s statehood anniversary.
December 6, the date of today’s inauguration ceremony, is also the same day in 1852 that King Kamehameha III signed into law civil rights to subjects and citizens of the Hawaiian Kingdom in a sharing of sovereignty with the Hawaiian people.
Other attendees at the ceremony also said it was peculiar that none of the speakers, except for Reverand Bruce Nakamura of the Hilo Hongwanji Mission, named and thanked outgoing officials such as former Gov. Linda Lingle, Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona, and other former Hawaii leaders present. Lingle and Aiona did not take part in the procession with other former governors following the ceremony.
“Before we begin this work today, let us take a moment to reflect on those who came before us, who overcame nature’s challenges, economic struggle, and war and discrimination to provide us with the opportunities we have today,” Abercrombie said. “?Their stories provide us this revelation: if we are to succeed in our new day, we must make a solemn commitment to one another. We cannot let personal differences overwhelm our pursuit of the public good. We cannot let cynicism and doubt eclipse our focus on what is possible. We must forgive each other for our mistakes and shortcomings.”
Abercrombie said his administration’s first priority lies in job creation, reaching out to the creativity of Hawaii’s workforce in stimulating the economy, and working with educators and caregivers to protect the island’s future laborers.
The governor and Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz will travel throughout the islands for confirmation ceremonies as a part of their inaugural events. The theme of the celebrations is “E Hoomalu O Hawaii,” which means: “To Protect Hawaii.”
Hawaii Island, Kau
Sunday, December 12 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Plantation House in Pahala
Hawaii Island, Waimea
Monday, December 13 from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Kuhio Hale (Hawaiian Homes Hall)
Wednesday, December 15 from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Hikina a ka la Heiau, Wailua
Parking is available at Lydgate Park.
Thursday, December 9 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
International Longshore and Warehouse Union Hall in Lanai City
Saturday, December 11 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Lahainaluna High School Football Field, 980 Lahainaluna Rd.
Wednesday, December 8 from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Kalanianaole Hall, Kalamaula
Open to the public but seating is limited. Parking is limited at the Hall with more parking available on the highway road.