Friday | November 17, 2017
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Memorial service, music program mark 100th anniversary of Lili‘uokalani’s death

Saturday marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Lili‘uokalani, former queen of Hawaii.

Churches and temples throughout the islands will toll their bells at 8:30 a.m. in her honor, and the Friends of Lili‘uokalani Gardens organized a 100th memorial service slated for 3-5 p.m. at Church of the Holy Apostles, 1407 Kapiolani St. in Hilo.

The public is invited. Overflow and assisted parking will be available.

Born Lydia Kamaka‘eha on Sept. 2, 1838, in Honolulu, Lili‘uokalani was the first and only reigning queen and last monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii. She ascended to the throne Jan. 29, 1891, following the death of her brother, King David Kalakaua, and was overthrown by American interests Jan. 17, 1893. She was placed under house arrest in ‘Iolani Palace for eight months following a failed insurrection by supporters in 1895, led by royalist Robert Wilcox.

The queen abdicated her throne to gain pardons for her jailed supporters. Hawaii was annexed by the U.S. in 1898.

Lili‘uokalani died at her home, Washington Place in Honolulu, on Nov. 11, 1917.

The Holy Apostles service will draw upon the funeral program of 1917, which was officiated by the Right Rev. Henry Bond Restarick, bishop of Honolulu. The service was took place at St. Andrew’s Cathedral near downtown Honolulu, where the queen was a member of the congregation.

Officiating the Hilo memorial service will be the Right Rev. Robert L. Fitzpatrick, current bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Hawaii.

“She became an Episcopalian in her adulthood, so that’s why we thought we would honor her as she lived by asking the church to conduct the service for us,” said Noe Noe Wong-Wilson, retired assistant professor of Hawaiian studies at Hawaii Community College and the event chairwoman. “We’re nearly duplicating the service that was read at her funeral. So the hymns were selected that were sung at her service, and the passages that were read are also being selected.

“I just learned this past week that Bishop Fitzpatrick, who happens to be an honorary member of the Royal Order of Kamehameha in Honolulu, has decided to conduct the service in both English and Hawaiian. That’s a little different since her actual service was conducted only in English.”

Another departure from the original service is a living history presentation by Jackie Pualani Johnson, retired drama professor at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, who will appear as Queen Lili‘uokalani.

“She has studied her and portrayed her on a number of occasions and has written a monologue that she is going to perform in the middle of the service. She will be there as if the queen were there with us. I think it’s going to be exciting,” Wong-Wilson said.

According to Wong-Wilson, the queen was eulogized in her original service “as a gracious leader and a woman of great faith.”

“I think we see her legacy every day in our lives,” she said. “She was a proponent of peace and she felt that the pono things, the right things, good things, would ultimately prevail. And we really, strongly believed in that during her reign, even during the days when her kingdom was taken from her and she was placed under house arrest. She felt that the goodwill of the president of the United States at the time (Grover Cleveland) would prevail, that the kingdom should not be taken from her and it was taken in error. She said she was turning the care of her government over to the United States, not to the Provisional Government or to the Committee of Safety that actually forced her to step off her throne. She left it up to the goodwill of the president of the United States to do the right thing. And as we know at this time, that didn’t occur.”

In addition to the church service, the Palace Theater in downtown Hilo will host a “Celebration of Life” program in the queen’s honor at 7 p.m.

The traditional Hawaiian music trio Komakakino will perform songs in her honor and Halau Ha‘a Kea o Kinohi, under the direction of kumu hula Paul K. Neves, will dance hula.

According to a written Palace statement, the program is to express reverence for Lili‘uokalani’s legacy and the sacrifices she made while leading the Hawaiian people at a time of crisis.

All who attend are asked to bring a lei to offer in memory of the queen.

Doors open at 6 p.m. and admission is $10 for adults, with those younger than 13 admitted free. All keiki must be accompanied by an adult. Advance tickets are available weekdays 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Palace box office. Credit card purchases are available by phone at 934-7010 during box office hours.

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