Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard spoke at the 2017 King Kamehameha Lei Draping Ceremony in Emancipation Hall on Sunday to honor King Kamehameha’s legacy of uniting the islands and establishing the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi in 1810.
“King Kamehameha’s legacy is one of unity and servant leadership. He brought people together in the face of great division, uniting the islands of Hawaiʻi for the first time. King Kamehameha was a leader ahead of his time who understood that true unity, in the end, could not be achieved at the tips of spears or by the muzzles of guns, but through dialogue, mutual respect, and working to understand common goals between people. What we learn from leaders like King Kamehameha is that we are at our best when we confront challenges together—when we set aside differences and unite. King Kamehameha was able to unify the islands of Hawaiʻi, not by creating a system that benefited a few, but by empowering many. These values still need to be protected and upheld today so that those who work hard have opportunities to succeed; that education and health care are not just for the privileged; that we serve as caretakers of our land and water for future generations; and that we treat others with aloha, love, and respect.” -Tulsi Gabbard
The 48th Annual Lei Draping Ceremony, hosted by the Hawaiʻi State Society, is held each June at the U.S. Capitol to coincide with KingKamehameha Day celebrations taking place throughout Hawaiʻi. Hundreds of people attended, including Kauaʻi Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Hawaiʻi State Senate President Ron Kouchi, Office of Hawaiian Affairs Vice-Chair Dan Ahuna, and other state and local elected officials, and included performances by hula halaus from Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC.