Opinion-Editorial by hauMĀNA - originally published in Honolulu Civil Beat
If you’ve heard the long, blaring commercials, the mountain-rattling roar of fighter jet engines and perhaps even the practice blasts of simulated bombings and the “wall of fire” over the past weeks then you are likely aware that the annual Blue Angels air show is this Saturday at Kāneʻohe Marine Corp Base (KMCB).
Colonel Brian Annicharico, the Commanding Officer at Marine Corps Base Hawaiʻi describes the airshow as “A myriad of professional, civilian and military aerobatic demonstrations as well as military static displays.” But for many of us who call Hawaiʻi home, the upcoming air show is so much more than a “demonstration of aerobatics.”
Rather, it is a stark reminder of how military power in Hawaiʻi has heavily impacted our history, our land, and our people.
For many Kānaka Maoli, this blatant display of U.S. military might triggers the collective memory of our people to recall the landing of U.S. Marines in Honolulu on January 16th, 1893 to assist in the overthrow our beloved Queen, Liliʻuokalani. This military power that suppressed freedom of speech and protest against the overthrow of our Queen, is the same military power that continues to occupy the lands and minds of our people here in Hawaiʻi today.
Hawaiʻi’s value to the U.S. was, and continues to be, measured in its strategic usefulness as a military outpost and training ground. Since the 1893 landing of U.S. Marines in Honolulu, military presence and power in Hawaiʻi has grown exponentially. Currently, the military controls nearly 240,000 acres of land in our islands, upon which 161 military installations are housed. On Oʻahu alone, the military controls over 85,000 acres, or approximately 22 percent of the island’s entire land mass. This has contributed to a multitude of environmental and social justice issues across our ʻāina, including, but not limited to the contamination of our land and water resources with unexploded ordinances and depleted uranium.
For those of us who trace our genealogies back to the land and seas of Hawaiʻi, it is extremely problematic and painful to witness the military’s continued exploitation of these ancestors of ours for their live-fire training exercises. In this sense, the air show on Saturday with all its aerobatic displays, simulated bombings and walls of fire is more than just a reminder of the physical impacts of the military in Hawai’i but is also symbolic of an extreme power divide that renders those who are genealogically connected to this ʻāina, virtually powerless.
But powerless we are not. Throughout history, people whose only weapon in hand is aloha for their ʻāina have united in great numbers, and have indeed made great strides towards global peace and justice. Our own history tells the story of a group of people who united, struggled and succeeded in stopping the U.S. Navy’s bombing of Kahoʻolawe. The fight for land and culture that allows people and places to thrive continues. Merely three weeks ago, 100,000 people in Okinawa and 10,000 people in Japan gathered in protest of the arrival of twelve MV-22 Osprey aircraft, expressing serious concerns over the safety and well-being of their people. ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼ ￼Currently, the U.S. military is proposing to station 24 MV-22 Osprey aircraft to train over the densely populated area of Koʻolaupoko, Oʻahu, and on our sacred Mauna a Wākea at the Pōhakuloa Training Area on Hawaiʻi island. This is double the number of aircraft that Japan is protesting against. Building a movement and strengthened voice focused on love for the land, aloha ʻāina, is absolutely critical to curbing the continuation of military expansion in Hawaiʻi, which will only work to consume the economic, environmental, and social values of this, our home.
This Saturday a group of students and community members will gather at the intersection of Likelike and Kamehameha Highway between 8 and 9am to demonstrate our solidarity with those who envision an independent and de-militarized Hawaiʻi whose lands, traditions, natural resources, people and deities are respected, allowed to flourish, and are protected from exploitation as training grounds for U.S. military activities around the world.
We will give space and voice to a message of Aloha ʻĀina in opposition to one that works to normalize the exploitation of land and people through the glorification of war and violence. We also stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters from Okinawa, Japan, Guam and others from around the great Pacific, who are currently engaged in resistance efforts against military expansion in their own countries.
Ours is a message of peace and it is with a deep and intimate sense of aloha for our ʻāina that we stand here today, steadfast in our opposition to any and all actions that compromise the well-being of our ʻāina and our people - past, present, and future. We invite you to join us in doing the same.
Me ke aloha ʻāina, hauMĀNA Student Movement For Aloha No Ka Aina
Noʻeau Peralto, Hawaiian Studies
ʻIlima Long, Hawaiian Studies
Kaiwipuni Lipe, College of Education
Eric Tong, Oceanography
David Kealiʻi MacKenzie, Library & Information Science, Center For Pacific Island Studies
Meghan Leialoha Au, Hawaiian Studies
Waianuhea Walk, Hawaiian Studies, Hawaiian Language
Pūlama Long, Hawaiian Language
Eri Oura, alumni, Political Science
Ileana Haunani Rueles, Sociology
Elise Leimomi Davis, Public Health
Ka'ano'i Walk, Hawaiian Language
About the author: hauMĀNA is the UH student branch of Movement For Aloha No Ka Aina (MANA), a Hawaiian Independence Movement-building organization established to achieve independence and social justice through direct action, political education, economic development, international diplomacy, and public advocacy, with a cultural and spiritual foundation.