Among the many kings and queens there were a few commoners who helped Hawaii become recognized as the place it is today.
Duke Paoa Kahaanmoku
Even in his young year, Duke acquired fame as being one of the beat surfers Hawaii has ever seen. By winning several Olympic medals during the 1912 games in Stockholm, he helped Hawaii to international fame and introduced the ?Hawaiian Crawl, his unique way of swimming. When he won Olympic gold again in 1920, his international recognition grew, and he collected more medals by representing the US Olympic team in 1924, 1928 and in 1932 at the age of 42. Duke, who claimed he needed to be in the water to be happy, introduced the sport of surfing to Australia and the rest of the world, starred in movies next to john Wayne and was voted sheriff of Waikiki in his later years. He personified the spirit of Aloha, and today his statue graces Waikiki beach, welcoming visitors from all over the world. A visit to Duke?s restaurant in Waikiki brings back memories of endless summer days of long ago and shows guests pictures and memorabilia of Duke, a true Hawaiian.
Israel Kamakawiwo `ole
Like no other, this 800 pound heavy Hawaiian singer has touched hearts and lifted the spirits of his people and everyone else who ever had a chance to hear him sing. With a heart ten times the size of his body and a compassion and voice to go with it, he brought into awareness the plight of his people like few others. Singing about poverty, the overthrow of his kingdom, crime and the disappearance of the Hawaiian race, he became the voice of a nation fighting for survival. Even through ?Brother IZ? battled health problems for most of his life and lived on welfare, he managed to bring out the good in everyone and broke barriers between people wherever possible. With his death in 1997, Hawaii lost one of its strongest voices ever. His message should be remembered.