September 2, 2018, marks another milestone in our people’s history, as the 180th birthday for our beloved Queen Lili‘uokalani. Although it has been more than 100 years since Lili‘u left the physical world, her memory lives on and she continues to be a celebrated leader in our storied history. After being wrongly imprisoned by the Republic of Hawai‘i, she handed out ribbons to her supporters, reading “Mai Poina ‘Oe Ia‘u,” don’t forget me – and we have not.
Lili‘uokalani, much like other ali‘i of her time, leaves behind a legacy that endures to this day. We still cherish and learn her music, and have her written mana‘o to reflect upon in Hawai‘i’s Story by Hawai‘i’s Queen. Her legacy is still ever present in her trust and the beneficiaries she continues to serve.
>As we commemorate of our Queen’s birthday, we must also acknowledge her resilience in her service to our people. Stripped of her crown and titles, Lili‘uokalani as a private citizen continued to fight for the restoration of our kingdom; taking residence in Washington, D.C. – to her a foreign country, trying to convince the United States government of its error for its role in her overthrow. These efforts she would continue until her last days.
We are inspired by Queen Lili‘uokalani’s tenacity, and we need to continue to persevere in being our own best advocates for our people and our communities. I find great inspiration in the Queen’s mana‘o, and draw upon her quotes for motivation. More than a century later, her words still give us powerful sentiments for us to live by.
One of the more popular quotes attributed to Lili‘uokalani is a short one – but one word that carries great significance: ‘Onipa‘a. Wehewehe defines ‘onipa‘a: fixed, immovable, motionless, steadfast, established, firm, resolute, determined. This simple word carries vast motivation for us as a lāhui. The stance that our Queen wanted of her people more than a century ago is still much needed by our people today.
As we honor Lili‘uokalani on this milestone birthday, we need to do more than just pause and remember her. To truly pay tribute to our great queen, we need to live by her example. To be – firm, resolute, determined. The way we honor our queen is to be the strong people she wanted us to be. Immovable. Steadfast.
We have daily reminders of Queen Lili‘uokalani that we don’t always think of – some more prominent than others. For an example of a less-obvious reminder, portions of H1 and other roadways and parks carry her name as its official name. Yet a more obvious reminder is her statue placed in the mall area between ‘Iolani Palace and the Hawai‘i State Capitol. In this way, the symbolism here is heavy as the Queen keeps a watchful eye on the Legislature. She calls upon them to do pono by the people these legislators represent and the land and natural resources they protect. We can only hope that the lawmakers under her watchful eyes live by the same morals she did.
More than just hau‘oli lā hānau, let this commemorative birthday observance be our inspiration to ‘onipa‘a, to be a more resilient people in the face of all adversity, no matter where that adversity arises from. E ‘onipa‘a kākou!