Members of the Hawaii Congressional Delegation joined hundreds of guests with Hawaii ties at the U.S. Capitol on Sunday to take part in the 44th annual lei draping ceremony honoring King Kamehameha the Great.
Hawaii observes Kamehameha Day on Tuesday, June 11.
"We gather to honor the first King of Hawaii, Kamehameha the Great," said Sen. Mazie Hirono. "From the island of Hawaii, Kamehameha was raised to become a skilled warrior in the traditional ways of combat, uniting the islands we all know as Hawaii. He laid the foundations for modern Hawaii by protecting the traditions and culture of his ancestors even as the kingdom grew and interacted with Western nations. His strong leadership during this period of great change inspires us all to work together to ensure our shared traditions and history can be celebrated for generations to come."
"It is fitting that we are here in our nation’s capital representing the state of Hawaii by honoring the birth of Hawaii’s first king," said Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. "The battle to fulfill his vision is now within these halls of Congress and the White House down the street."
Hanabusa continued, "Senators Inouye and Akaka fought as Hawaii’s warriors for the recognition of Native Hawaiians. They embraced that as their kuleana, their responsibility. It is now the kuleana of our Congressional delegation to continue that fight. I stand before you all today to assure you that I will honor that responsibility and do everything in my power as an individual and a member of Congress to work on behalf of Native Hawaiians, and further the vision of King Kamehameha and the commitment of our great senators. It is an honor and privilege to be here to carry on that legacy."