Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Revenge is a dish best served bronzed

LET ME tell you about King Kamehameha. No, not the Dragon Ball Z variety.

King Kamehameha (AKA Kamehameha I and Kamehameha the Great) was the first monarch of the kingdom of Hawai'i (he conquered the Hawai'ian islands and established his reign in 1810).

Now I really don't want to tell you about Hawai'i or his reign. Partially because most of it is probably pretty standard stuff. Partially because I don't want to have to research it.

I want to talk to you about statues. In the US Capitol, every state in the union is allowed to submit for approval two statues to be housed somewhere in the country's legislative heart. Many statues stand in the old House of Representatives room (National Hall of Statues, now). They can only fit about 30 (I think the guide said 37) in the hall, though -- any more and the foundation would crumble under the weight.

You see, there are only two criteria for the statues: They must be someone from your state, and they must be made of either marble or bronze. (I know there's a copper Ike, but I think he's just an aberration).

So Hawai'i is its own happy little island kingdom until the US comes in, wipes out the dynasty and declares the archipelago annexed.

Fast forward to today (well, you know what I mean) and Hawaii sends this bronze statue of Kamehameha to be placed in the US Capitol.

Well, they tried. The first statue was so heavy it sank the ship carrying it across the Pacific to California. The second statue they sent during hurricane season. Winds broke its restraining ropes, the statue slid to one side of the boat and the whole ship promptly tipped over. Third time's the charm, because there is a statue in the Capitol of Kamehameha I.

And here is where our story gets interesting. Kamehameha is the heaviest statue in the Capitol (beside, I'm assuming, Lady Liberty). He weighs about 37 tons. They put him in the hall of statues, only to find he began crumbling the foundation under him. So they tried various spots around the room, all with the same result.

He's now in the hall behind some columns, shoved against a wall, where really no one can see him. And here he waits quietly eroding the building's foundation.

They put him against that wall because it was structurally the most stable spot. They found a couple years ago the foundation under him is still crumbling, and had to drill out the wall behind him and put in a steel rod.

Kamehameha the Great, after more than 150 years, is enacting the revenge of his people, the Hawai'ians, on the imperial forces that took his homeland and almost wiped out his people.

I can see it now. "Conquer us and make us into an 'annex' will you? We shall present you with a Trojan horse that will crumble the very foundations of your legislative body. (Evil laughs here.)"

Long live the king.

No comments: