Lying in state a rare honor in Hawaii

Lying in state a rare honor in Hawaii
Francis Lum
Francis Lum

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Israel Kamakawiwoole's lying in state ceremony at the State Capitol was a colorful and crowded event. Ten thousand people showed up. Francis Lum made sure it went smoothly.

"Israel had a lot of people the whole day and night. It was a great crowd. Very peaceful crowd. And they brought a lot of Hawaiian music," he said.

For 40 years, Lum was the State's protocol officer, the point man for lying in state ceremonies. Under five governors he coordinated five vigils. He learned on the job.

"There was no plan at all. I just sat down and talked to the family," he said.

Lum's first ceremony was in 1975 for Gov. John A. Burns. The man who hired him left instructions for how he wanted to lie in state..

"No tent, right on the mosaic, rain or shine," Lum said.

Besides Burns and Bruddah Iz, Lum handled ceremonies for U.S. Senators Spark Matsunaga and Hiram Fong, and for U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink. He coordinated and observed.

"I sat on the side and made sure everything went okay," he said. "We used to hire somebody to put up the mikes and so forth so that nothing goes wrong."

Lm's Army background made it easy to follow orders. Lying in state ceremonies come down to listening to a family's wishes, and making sure the Capitol grounds are prepared properly.

"We can do a lot for them, putting up the canopy if they're going to stay there overnight, getting the lights, getting the parking, which is very very important," he said.

Lum retired in 2006 under Gov. Lingle. He's confident the present protocol officer will handle Sen. Daniel Inouye's ceremony with the dignity it deserves.

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