Though the Islands of Hawai’i are far away from the nation’s capital, residents honor all 50 states with a little aloha flavor.
The Aloha state, the 50th state to join the union, celebrates America’s birthday in the traditional way with fireworks, a presentation of the flags, the national anthem and a barbecue.
The barbecue is where Hawai’i shakes things up a bit.
“While the other states are having hamburgers and hotdogs,” said Hawaii native Thomas-Antonio Garcia, “We’re having Lau Lau (pork) and mixed plates!”
Of course, hamburgers and hotdogs are also available at the various celebration sites across the state. However, what is known by locals as ‘Hawaiian food’, like Lau Lau or chicken wrapped in taro leaves and steamed, is the crowd favorite.
“It’s not that we (as Hawaiians) don’t like American food,” added Garcia. “It’s just that we like to integrate our culture while being a part of America.”
Even as Garcia is talking, he is eating a guava chicken mixed plate with a side of pineapples.
“That’s certainly not the sort of thing I ate as a kid,” said Sydney Kincaid, who is originally from Modesto but has been living in Hawai’i for 2 years. “It just seems right to me now, though. I feel like it isn’t a party without a shave ice!”
Shave ice, or snow cones, is the Hawaiian replacement for ice cream and popsicles.
Scanning the concert area of the venue, it appears that Kincaid is right. Children and adults alike were enjoying shave ice of all colors and flavors.
“I’ve learned that embracing Hawaiian culture is a way of life for the people here,” added Kincaid, “especially on a day intended to celebrate America.”
Kincaid went on to explain that she found nothing wrong with the integration of the two cultures. She feels that no culture should forget their roots.
Indeed, one very important part of Hawaiian gatherings is the singing of the Hawaiian National Anthem.
Written by the last Queen of the Islands before the annexation with the United States, residents feel a strong sense of pride connected to the song, entitled Hawai’i Pono’i.
After the pledge of allegiance and the National Anthem of the United States, the crowd remains standing for Hawai’i Pono’i.
“Everyone here is just happy to be American and Hawaiian,” added Kincaid. “For us, it’s one and the same.”
As the fireworks exploded to music played by the 25 piece military band, Garcia definitely looked proud to be a part of the festivities.
“America is just one big mosaic,” he said. “We want to make sure we don’t forget who we are. Luckily, being a part of a free country allows us to do that.”