Having read the reports of recent polls indicating that a substantial number of Americans still do not believe that Barack Obama was born in the United States, including about 6% of Americans who believe that Obama was born in Hawaii but do not consider Hawaii to be part of the United States, I made the personal sacrifice of traveling to Hawaii to put this controversy to rest. Before going, I studied a map of the Pacific Ocean. This simple exercise should make it clear that any country seeking naval control over the Pacific would find it highly desirable, perhaps even essential, to hold Hawaii. The best way to maintain a naval base on Hawaii, of course, would be to make Hawaii part of your country. Clearly Hawaii is one of the most strategically important places in the entire world. I'm not sure why any American would consider it advantageous, at least to the defense interests of the United States, for Hawaii be a foreign country.
After considering the important geopolitical reasons why the United States would have wanted to make Hawaii a state, I next traveled to Pearl Harbor to verify the substantial presence of the United States Navy there, and to soak up some history lessons. This was my second visit to the Arizona memorial, and it is still a moving experience no matter how many times you visit. A new visitors' center is under construction, under the supervision of the National Parks Service, further evidence of United States government jurisdiction over the island of Oahu.
While my family was in Hawaii, we searched for signs of commemerations of the 50th anniversary of Hawaii's admittance into the union as the 50th state. Barack Obama is known to be 48 years old, which would suggest that he was born some time after the admittance of Hawaii to the union in 1959. Some might have found it suspicious, however, that the celebrations of the statehood anniversary were very restrained. We saw no parades or fireworks or other major demonstrations. We did hear about some anti-statehood demonstrations, though, which might have explained the low-key marking of the 50th anniversary. Apparently, there are some Hawaiian islanders who are still not reconciled to statehood.
Another day, I happened to meet my Congresswoman, Diane Watson, at of all places, the Polynesian Cultural Center. I cannot take this as definitive confirmation that Hawaii is part of the United States, however, as she herself told me that she was on the way back from a Congressional delegation's visit to China.
On the last day of our trip, we went on a scavenger hunt of some places where the president is alleged to have lived as a child and teenager. I found these sites through a very helpful website called Obama's Neighborhood, which has much better pictures than the ones I took. First stop was 6085 Kalaniana'ole Highway, where the baby Barack lived in 1961. You really can't see much of anything here, because of the gate, but I did verify that this address actually exists, and it is located in the United States of America.
Near the University of Hawaii we found an apartment building at 1427 Alexander Street, where Obama's grandparents lived from 1962 to 1963. While there, we ran into a Dutch couple armed with a guidebook of Obama sites in Hawaii, following a similar trek. I had a friendly chat with them, and they seemed to have no qualms about our president's authenticity. Then again, they were definitely not Americans.
We then visited the one really nice house Barack Obama is supposed to have lived in during his childhood, on 2234 University Ave., also near the University of Hawaii, located in the United States of America. My son posed in front of it. Two kids who may live in the house waved at us while we stood in the driveway taking pictures. Apparently they are used to tourists snapping pictures of their house, and don't seem to mind it.
Next, here I am standing in front of the apartment building on Beretania St., also located in the United States of America, where Barack Obama lived with his grandparents while he attended nearby Punahou prep school.
Finally, we looked up the apartment building on Poki Street, only a few blocks away, where Barack's mother lived with his half-sister Maya, from 1974 through 1976.
All in all, a fun and educational way to spend a morning in the great state of Hawaii.
(map from Pacific Rim Institute)