A road trip would not be complete without a visit to the Hawaii State Capitol Building so we headed over not knowing what to expect. It definitely did not even remotely resemble any statehouse we'd seen on the mainland, and it didn't connect in any way to the last royal Hawaiian residence at the Iolani Palace. Sadly, this state capitol was our absolute least favorite of them all. My heart broke a little as we stared at this 70’s architectural nightmare.
We ventured in to explore and here's what we found. There is no rotunda, as what I suppose should be the rotunda actually opens to the sky . The house and senate chambers inside the building are shaped like volcanic cones. The floor in the center of the atrium (for lack of a better word) is a blend of blue mosaic tiles to symbolize the ocean. While the intention of the symbolism is great, the execution is just truly awful. Looking at this sad building was just the ultimate cap-off to what was already a sort of sad day. Pearl Harbor, the Iolani palace, and now this. To me this was just the ultimate symbol of American modernity and "progress" displacing the ancient Hawaiian culture and looking at it just broke my heart. In fact for the rest of the day I reflected on my thoughts about Hawaii and why I still think it should never have been a state.
The one bright light in our visit was learning about Father Damien..His statue is at the front of the building that you see here (I love art but I have to that this is a very strange interpretation that doesn't resemble his likeness at all). Unfortunately, during another sad time in Hawaiian history, there was a huge outbreak of Leprosy. In order to contain the disease, those stricken were sent away to the lonely island of Molokai, which became a leper colony. Father Damien decided to risk his life to live amongst those afflicted and minister and care for them. He eventually succumbed to the disease himself, but his righteous and giving spirit is commemorated in many places on the islands, and it is important to learn his story and discuss what it means to give of oneself to help others.