Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI), the popular Asian American senator who was the current most senior Senator in the Senate, as well as the second longest-running Senator in history, passed away yesterday at Walter Reed Hospital after suffering respiratory complications. He was 88.
His final word reportedly was “Aloha”, meaning “hello”, “goodbye”, “compassion” and “mercy”.
During his life, Daniel Inouye was the first U.S. Representative to represent Hawaii in the House, and the first Japanese-American in Congress. Prior to his life as a political representative, Daniel Inouye served as a medical volunteer at Pearl Harbour and later enlisted for service, serving in the highly-decorated predominantly-Japanese-American 442nd Regiment. Inouye lost his right forearm in injuries sustained during his service in WWII; these injuries led Senator Inouye to give up his intended career as a surgeon and to ultimately run for public office, becoming a Congressional institution. In June of 2000, Senator Inouye was awarded a Medal of Honor by President Bill Clinton in relation to his WWII service.
Thank you, Senator Inouye for your life of public service. You made an indelible impact on generations of Americans and Asian Americans, alike; and, you will most certainly be missed.
Update: The Wall Street Journal reports that Senator Inouye wrote a letter to Governor Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii requesting that recently-reelected U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa replace Senator Inouye upon his death. Governor Abercrombie must make a special appointment for someone to fill Senator Inouye’s seat in the Senate until a special election can be held in 2014.