Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, an American hero in the U.S. Senate, has died from respiratory illness. The Honolulu Star Advertiser reports, Sen. Daniel K. Inouye dies at age 88 of respiratory illness:
Daniel K. Inouye died today of a respiratory ailment at a Bethesda, Md.,
hospital, ending a life of remarkable service for his country and
Hawaii that included sacrificing his right arm in World War II combat
and spending 50 years as a U.S. senator. He was 88.
* * *
A statement from his office said
that his wife Irene Hirano Inouye and his son Ken were at his side and
that last rites were performed by Senate Chaplain Dr. Barry Black.
When he was asked recently how
he wanted to be remembered, he said, "I represented the people of Hawaii
and this nation honestly and to the best of my ability. I think I did
OK," according to the statement.
His last words were, "Aloha."
"Our hearts are just full of grief, collectively as well as
individually," said Dante Carpenter, the chairman of the Democratic
Party of Hawaii.
* * *
Inouye leaves an unparalleled
legacy in Hawaii history — including Medal of Honor winner, nine-term
U.S. senator, and key figure in the Senate investigations of both the
Watergate and Iran-Contra scandals. As the longest-serving member of the
Senate, the Hawaii Democrat was president pro tempore — third in line
to the presidency.
His death is a huge loss for
Hawaii which has come to rely on his decades of unwavering advocacy for
the islands and his ability to direct billions of dollars in federal
money to his home state. It was often said, only half-jokingly, that
Hawaii had three major industries: tourism, the military, and Sen. Dan
* * *
Daniel Ken Inouye was born in
Honolulu on Sept. 7, 1924, to Japanese-American parents Hyotaro, a
jewelry clerk, and Kame, a homemaker. He was named after biblical
prophet Daniel and the Rev. Daniel Klinefelter, a Methodist minister who
helped raised the orphaned Kame. Inouye's parents met at church and
always preached family honor and discipline, a blend of Japanese
tradition and Methodist sensibility. Inouye was the eldest of four
siblings — sister May and brothers John and Robert — who grew up in
Moiilili and McCully.
Although the family was poor and
Inouye said he did not wear shoes regularly until he attended McKinley
High School, he once wrote of his family ethos, "there was a fanatic
conviction that opportunity awaited those who had the heart and strength
to pursue it."
For many of his generation, the
Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor forever changed the
trajectory of his life. Inouye had wanted to be a doctor and had taken a
first-aid course from the American Red Cross, but once President
Franklin D. Roosevelt agreed in 1943 to let nisei volunteer for the war,
Inouye volunteered for the Army and was assigned to what was to become
one of the most decorated military units in history, the segregated
442nd Regimental Combat Team.
Inouye, a sergeant when the
442nd landed in Europe, was promoted to first lieutenant as the nisei
unit moved through Italy, then France, then back to Italy in the waning
days of the war.
In northern Italy in April 1945
as the war in Europe was coming to an end, Inouye moved his platoon
against German troops near San Terenzo. Inouye crawled up a slope and
tossed two hand grenades into a German machine-gun nest. He stood up
with his tommy gun and raked a second machine-gun nest before being shot
in the stomach. But he kept charging until his right arm was hit by an
enemy rifle grenade and shattered.
"I looked at it, stunned and
disbelieving. It dangled there by a few bloody shreds of tissue, my
grenade still clenched in a fist that suddenly didn't belong to me
anymore," Inouye wrote in his 1967 autobiography, "Journey to
Washington," written with Lawrence Elliott.
Inouye wrote that he pried the
grenade out of his right hand and threw it at the German gunman, who was
killed by the explosion. He continued firing his gun until he was shot
in the right leg and knocked down the hillside. Badly wounded, he
ordered his men to keep attacking and they took the ridge from the
He was discharged as a captain
and nominated for the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military
award, but instead received the Distinguished Service Cross and the
Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster to go along with a Bronze Star.
President Bill Clinton belatedly recognized Inouye and 21 other
Asian-American veterans in 2000 with the Medal of Honor.
Inouye had multiple operations
to treat his wounds and spent nearly two years in rehabilitation on the
mainland to learn how to function without his right arm. He was fitted
for a prosthetic arm, but it never felt comfortable so he stopped using
On his return to Hawaii, his
dreams of a medical career over, Inouye enrolled in pre-law classes at
UH under the GI Bill with an eye toward politics. He met Margaret
Shinobu Awamura, a UH speech instructor, and on their second date asked
her to marry him. After UH, Inouye went to law school at George
Inouye returned to Hawaii and
became a disciple of Democrat John Burns, a former Honolulu police
captain who stood up for the rights of Japanese-Americans during the
war. Burns, who would later become governor, was an advocate for workers
and civil rights and saw the political value of linking the union
movement with the struggles of emerging Japanese-Americans. It was Burns
who urged Inouye to run for the Territorial House in 1954.
Inouye won and the Democratic
takeover of the Legislature in 1954 became a pivotal moment in Hawaii
history, leading to more than a half-century of nearly unbroken party
rule. He was elected to the Territorial Senate in 1958, and Hawaii
became the 50th state a year later. Inouye then ran and won a seat in
the U.S. House of Representatives.
In 1962 at age 38, he handily
defeated Benjamin Dillingham, a Republican from one of the state's most
prominent families, to become a U.S. senator.
* * *
At the 1968 Democratic National
Convention in Chicago, Inouye gave the convention's keynote address. He
recognized the racial and social upheaval in the inner cities and the
anger of the anti-war movement but warned against the temptation to cut
down establishment institutions.
"This is my country," he said.
"Many of us have fought hard to say that. Many are struggling today from
Harlem to Da Nang that they may say it with conviction."
In the early 1970s as the
Watergate scandal engulfed the Nixon administration, Inouye's reputation
for integrity earned him a key role on the Senate committee
investigating the burglary of the Democratic National Committee
headquarters and its aftermath — a morass that would eventually lead to
the resignation of Richard Nixon in 1974.
Of that time, Inouye said, "Watergate is not a partisan tragedy. It is a national tragedy."
More than a decade later, Inouye
was called upon again to serve on a Senate committee, this time as
chairman, as it investigated the Iran-Contra affair, a scheme by the
Reagan administration to trade arms for American hostages in Iran and
use some of the proceeds from arms sales to help finance a Contra
rebellion against the socialist Sandinista government in Nicaragua. The
senator conducted the probe with grace and uncovered some damaging
revelations, but the trail never quite reached President Ronald Reagan
and the public's verdict was much more indifferent than it was after
* * *
Throughout his half-century in
the Senate, Inouye's ability to bring federal money back to his home
state is indisputable. Inouye was a voice for sugar, pineapple and
shipping, for highways, airports and harbors, for the East-West Center,
for UH and for the military. He worked to help make Hawaii the most
important strategic location for the military in the Pacific, and the
military became, along with tourism, the foundation of the state's
economy. Serving on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Inouye was able
to deliver federal money no matter which political party controlled
Congress or the White House.
He also used his influence to change federal policy to benefit Hawaii, promote civil rights and preserve native cultures.
Inouye also helped set in motion
the process that eventually led President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to issue
an apology and provide $20,000 each to the survivors of Japanese
internment during World War II, an injustice that gnawed at Inouye since
he was a young GI.
Working with fellow Hawaii
Democrat U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, Inouye helped win historic passage of a
resolution signed by President Clinton in 1993 formally apologizing for
the U.S. government's role in the 1893 overthrow of the kingdom of
* * *
Inouye is survived by wife Irene, the former president and chief
executive of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, whom
he married in May 2008, son Ken, daughter-in-law Jessica, granddaughter
Maggie and step-daughter Jennifer Hirano. He was preceded in death his
first wife, Maggie Awamura.
Mahalo and Aloha Sen. Daniel Inouye.