ONTD Political

Flawless Man, Senator Dan Inouye Dies at Age 88

11:32 pm - 12/19/2012

Daniel Inouye, a World War II veteran who received the Medal of Honor and represented Hawaii in the Senate for five decades, has died, his office announced Monday. He was 88.

He died of respiratory complications Monday evening shortly at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, with his wife and son at his side.

Inouye was hospitalized last week and had undergone procedures to regulate his oxygen intake.

He won his ninth consecutive term in 2010 and was the second-longest-serving senator in the chamber's history, trailing only Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia. Inouye was a senator for all but three of Hawaii's 53 years as a state and had served as its first House member before that.

Senators of both parties took to the chamber floor Monday to mourn his death, and President Barack Obama described Inouye as "a true American hero."

"In Washington, he worked to strengthen our military, forge bipartisan consensus, and hold those of us in government accountable to the people we were elected to serve," Obama said in a statement. "But it was his incredible bravery during World War II -- including one heroic effort that cost him his arm but earned him the Medal of Honor -- that made Danny not just a colleague and a mentor, but someone revered by all of us lucky enough to know him. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Inouye family."

Vice President Joe Biden, who served alongside Inouye in the Senate, recalled his "moral bravery" in the body. "He was one of the most honorable men I ever met in my life, and one of the best friends you could hope for. He was honest, and fiercely loyal, and I trusted him absolutely."

Fellow Hawaiian Daniel Akaka choked up as he said, "It is very difficult for me to rise today with a heavy heart to bid aloha, aloha to my good friend, colleague and brother.

"Tomorrow will be the first day since Hawaii became a state in 1959 that Dan Inouye will not be representing us in Congress. Every child born in Hawaii will learn of Dan Inouye, a man who changed the islands forever."

Inouye enlisted in the U.S. Army shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. In World War II, Inouye lost an arm charging machine gun nests in San Terenzo, Italy, earning him the Medal of Honor.

He was of Japanese heritage and served in an Army unit made up of Japanese-Americans. His battalion was the most decorated unit of the war. Meanwhile, stateside, many Japanese-Americans were held during the war by the government in internment camps based on their race.

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, remembered his late colleague as a "unique, brave legislator" and as a fellow veteran who was injured in war.

Inouye's unit was in "many of the most gruesome and difficult bloodlettings of the entire conflict," McCain said. "In fierce combat, Dan Inouye was gravely wounded on the battlefield. He was brought home ... as we all know, (he) lost his arm."

What happened after that battlefield injury would lead to a long-standing friendship: Inouye was hospitalized alongside the second lieutenant who would also become a U.S. senator, Bob Dole.

"Danny and I saw service in World War II where he lost an arm and where I had other difficulties," Dole said in a statement. " When we left the hospital, we eventually became United States senators and he was always telling his friends that I talked him into it. I don't recall it, but if Danny said it was true, that was good enough for me."

Dole said his friend reached out to all, regardless of the party.

"Never once do I recall his being critical of another colleague -- Republican or Democrat," he said.

Inouye served as chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations and the Senate Commerce Committee, and was the first chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

As head of the Appropriations Committee, he defended the practice of earmarking funds for pet projects and brought millions to his home state.

He gained national notoriety as a member of the Senate panel investigating the Watergate scandal in the 1970s.

At the time of his death, Inouye was president pro tempore of the Senate and had held that position since the death of West Virginia's Robert Byrd in 2010. In that position, Inouye was third in the line of succession to the U.S. presidency, behind Vice President Biden and House Speaker John Boehner.

Late Monday, the Senate approved a resolution giving Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid the authority to swear in Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, now the chamber's most senior Democrat, as the new Senate president pro tempore.

Reid said in remembrance of Inouye, "If there was ever a patriot, Dan Inouye was that patriot." Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell described him as someone who "rarely called attention to himself but who lived a remarkable American life filled with dignity and grace of the true hero that he was."

Inouye graduated from the University of Hawaii and the George Washington University School of Law.

Asked recently how he would want to be remembered, the senator 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 his office.

His last word was "Aloha," it said.


Daniel Inouye was an amazing, beloved senator here in Hawaii. As a little girl, I remember him being in office and him just always being there. Even up until the very end, Inouye held a positive outlook on life, planning on running again in 2014. His death leaves behind a gap that will never fully be replaced.

Aloha, Inouye. You served your islands proud.

baked_goldfish 20th-Dec-2012 03:24 pm (UTC)
He's lying in state at the Capitol and CSpan is covering.the remarks right now (Biden is talking right now).
othellia 20th-Dec-2012 03:54 pm (UTC)
Didn't know that about CSpan - and sadly I have to leave the house right now - but yeah. There have just been so many articles with different information in each, that it was hard to choose just one. Like I remember one talked about how there have only been about 30 others in the history of the United States that have been allowed to lie in state at the Capitol, and many more talk about how is last request was for his replacement to be Colleen Hanabusa (he doesn't have the power to appoint, but his opinion carries a lot of clout) one of the current House Reps.

I might make another post on that once a couple more days pass and the other nominees are decided (I think there'll be about 3). I'm still very sad, but it'd be amazing to have two Japanese American women representing Hawaii in the senate.
a_phoenixdragon 20th-Dec-2012 03:37 pm (UTC)
Dammit...why do we hear so rarely about the good guys until they are gone. I'm sorry, Hawaii - I know he will be missed. Rest in Peace, sir.
browneyedguuurl 20th-Dec-2012 05:12 pm (UTC)
He sounds like an amazing man. Hawaii, you were very lucky. Rest in peace.
liz_marcs 20th-Dec-2012 06:56 pm (UTC)
Even though I live in Massachusetts, I've been aware of Daniel Inouye for years because of a high school paper I did on the Issei/Nessei issues during World War II.

My favorite write-up about Daniel Inouye, which I read two years ago: Badass of the Week.

As for representation in the U.S. Senate: Inouye is to Hawaii what Ted Kennedy was to Massachusetts. They were Senators that served their constituents so well and for so long that it's hard to imagine that seat belonging to anyone else.
wrestlingdog 20th-Dec-2012 08:20 pm (UTC)
Wow, that writeup is awesome. I love Badass of the Week.
thenakedcat 20th-Dec-2012 08:49 pm (UTC)
I really hope that Daniel Inouye gets a fitting replacement immediately. Ted Kennedy's seat had to wait two years for Elizabeth Warren to fill it properly.
halfshellvenus 20th-Dec-2012 07:27 pm (UTC)
I saw the obit in our paper yesterday, and I felt so sad.

He was an amazing man, the embodiment of integrity, and that is such a rare and wonderful thing-- even moreso in politics.

It's amazing to think that he was in Congress since Hawaii's beginning, and what a lack of him we will all feel.

He served not only his state; he served the nation. Let us remember him with gratitude.
crossfire 20th-Dec-2012 08:35 pm (UTC)
My first exposure to Senator Inouye was during the Iran Contra hearings. I remember thinking, "damn, that man is sharp." Plus he also really pissed off Ollie North and his slimy attorney, which was awesome. I made it a point to keep up on his from time to time. He will be missed.
moonbladem 21st-Dec-2012 01:41 am (UTC)
Aloha, Senator Daniel Inouye.
metanoiame 21st-Dec-2012 11:20 pm (UTC)
Mixed feelings. On the one hand, he sounds like a great person, and I don't doubt that he had a reason for being so popular in Hawaii.

On the other hand, I also think that the emphasis on "winning" earmarks as well as the long, long terms of a typical Senator are both problematic. I mean, can a politician in their mid- to late-eighties really represent the new generation of citizens accurately and well? Is a veteran lawmakers using their experience and contacts to funnel federal dollars to favored state projects really a good thing? Or someone being honored for their ability to wage war, and not make peace?

I don't know. I don't want to tread on any toes, and I'm not from Hawaii, but nothing in this article resolves any of my initial reactions.
othellia 24th-Dec-2012 02:58 pm (UTC)
I won't argue with you over the merits of politicians in their eighties (although for Hawaii interest's I believe Inouye has been perfectly capable), but - for his veteran status - it's less about his ability to wage war and more about the personal sacrifice and heroism he displayed, losing his arm to help save the lives of his comrades, and the racism he had to overcome both during the war and after. And I think both of those are extremely admirable traits that I wish more politicians had... not in terms of having to face racism, but at least being aware of injustice on a personal level.

Also, the reason I bolded all the things about him being there so long and him being the oldest senator and third-in-line for the presidency is because I suspect not many people outside of Hawaii knew about Inouye, all the things he's done for our state, and just how high he'd risen for a second generation Japanese-American born in the 1920's.
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