Monday, December 17, 2012

Daniel Inouye (1924-2012)


"When asked in recent days how he wanted to be remembered, Dan said, very simply, 'I represented the people of Hawaii and this nation honestly and to the best of my ability. I think I did OK.' "

by Ken

This is a tough one, even though the senator was 88 (despite which he had been talking seriously about running for a tenth term in 2016) and was known to be seriously ill. According to the staff statement:
United States Senator Daniel K. Inouye, World War II veteran, Medal of Honor recipient and Hawaii's senior Senator, passed away from respiratory complications at 5:01 p.m. Eastern Standard Time today at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

His wife Irene and his son Ken were at his side. Last rites were performed by Senate Chaplain Dr. Barry Black.

He is survived by his wife, Irene Hirano Inouye, his son Daniel Ken Inouye Jr., Ken's wife Jessica, and granddaughter Maggie and step-daughter Jennifer Hirano. He was preceded in death his first wife, Maggie Awamura.

Senator Inouye's family would like to thank the doctors, nurses and staff at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for the extraordinary care he received. . . .
Inouye was elected as Hawaii's first U.S. House representative upon statehood in 1959, and was elected to the Senate in 1962, eventually becoming the Senate's president pro tempore and second-longest-serving member, as well as chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

The staff statement recalls:
[H]e enlisted in the U.S. Army shortly after Imperial Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He served with 'E' company of the 442 Regimental Combat Team, a group consisting entirely of Americans of Japanese ancestry. Senator Inouye lost his arm charging a series of machine gun nests on a hill in San Terenzo, Italy on April 21, 1945. His actions during that battle earned him the Medal of Honor.
During his recuperation in a Miichigan hospital, Politico's Kate Nocera recalls:
Inouye famously met two other veterans who would become his lifelong friends: Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and the late Sen. Philip Hart (D-Mich). The building was later named the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center in honor of the three men.
The Washington Post's announcement of Senator Inouye's death invokes a fine piece done by the paper's Jason Horowitz in October 2010, "Sen. Daniel Inouye, Hawaii's reigning son," but among the initial outpourings following the news of Senator Inouye's death, the remembrance I like best is the conclusion of Kate Nocera's Politico piece:
Inouye gave the keynote speech at the 1968 Democratic National Convention where he spoke of the country's struggles with racism and bias while the country was struggling with Civil Rights and the Vietnam war.

"This is my country," Inouye said then. "Many of us have fought hard for the right to say that. Many are now struggling today from Harlem to Da Nang that they may say this with conviction."

He called for Americans to reject violent protests but continue to speak out against discrimination calling for a "new era of politics."

"Let us build not only new buildings but new neighborhoods -- and then let us live in them, all as full citizens and all as brothers," he said. [Emphasis added]

“In closing I wish to share with you a most scared word of Hawaii. It is aloha. To some you who visited us it may have meant hello. To others aloha may have meant goodbye. But to those of us who have been privileged to live in Hawaii, aloha means I love you. So to all of you, my fellow Americans, aloha.”
Aloha, senator.

The Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center in Battle Creek, MI

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