Editor's Page: Perseverance

Sticking with what you believe in.

Photo: Adam Jung

Perseverance is that quality that allows people to continue trying to do something even when it’s difficult. In Hawaii, I can think of no one who exemplifies that quality better than Queen Liliuokalani.

The last reigning monarch of Hawaii stands in a unique place in our history. She ascended the throne in January of 1892 at the death of her brother, King David Kalakaua. A year later, she was overthrown by a group of prominent businessmen known as the Missionary Party with the support of armed U.S. Marines.

She was imprisoned at Iolani Palace, her palace, for eight months but remained undaunted. She was banned from reading newspapers but allowed paper and pencil, which she used to write songs that included the ageless “Aloha Oe.” By 1898 she was free and had written her autobiography: Hawaii’s Story By Hawaii’s Queen. She wrote: “To compose was as natural to me as to breathe; and this gift of nature, never having been suffered to fall into disuse, remains a source of the greatest consolation to this day.”

In 1909, she created a perpetual charitable trust to help orphaned and destitute children with preference to those of Hawaiian ancestry. And when she died, she left most of her estate to the trust, which continues to serve through the programs of the Queen Liliuokalani Children’s Centers. The queen wrote: “Never cease to act because you fear you may fail.”

Much of this is familiar to HONOLULU readers, of course; I’m sure many of you remember studying from a lackluster, paperback, text-heavy edition of the queen’s book back in school. The queen is on my mind now, again, thanks to a new edition of her autobiography, this time an elegant hardback from University of Hawaii Press that includes photos and a foreword from the trustees reflecting on that legacy. It was recently launched at Washington Place, the queen’s home of many years, where the governor and trust officials honored her memory.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie praised the queen for her inspiring example of writing the enduring book “in a time of stress and strain and difficulties and challenges.”

Ben Henderson, of the Children’s Centers, said the queen’s struggles etched her place in history. “She continued to persevere and leave a legacy of love and aloha.”

Find the new hardcover edition of Liliuokalani’s autobiography at uhpress.hawaii.edu.

Photo: Odeelo Dayondon

The book includes portions of the manuscript earlier deemed too inflammatory to publish, including this description of Lorrin Thurston: “He was really the evil genius of that self-chosen party who overthrew the monarchy in 1893.”

Looking through this month’s issue of our magazine, we find another example of perseverance in “The Painful Path to Same-Sex Marriage in Hawaii.” The feature offers a first-person account of recent gay history in the Islands from Curt Sanburn, who has been writing about Hawaii issues for more than three decades. While the legalization of same-sex marriage dominated the news for weeks in Hawaii, the beginnings of that effort trace back 30 years.

In a coincidence of time and space, you’ll find Sanburn’s colleagues in this month’s neighborhood piece about the lesser-known facets of Oahu’s east side. Sanburn was among the key members of the Save Sandy Beach Coalition honored on the cover of HONOLULU Magazine in January 1989 as “Islanders of the Year” for helping to preserve the Ka Iwi coastline from development. “Heading East,” by writer Catherine E. Toth and senior editor David Thompson, reveals this and other interesting tales of East Honolulu.

Rounding out our features this month is a look at Spring Fashion, seen high above Honolulu’s cityscape. Our fashion team, led by Brie Thalmann and Stacey Makiya, ventured to the State Capitol’s fifth floor to bring us the high points of sheer fashion.

And take a minute to check out our back page, Afterthoughts, where managing editor Michael Keany takes a wry look at how Hawaii deals with a little winter weather. (Hint: It could be subtitled, “We whine when chilled.”)

Here’s to spring!