Senator Daniel Inouye (D–HI) passed away last evening, an old warrior succumbed to complications of pneumonia. His last word was “Aloha.”
Inouye was one of an all too quickly disappearing cadre of elder statesmen who began their public service as military members. He was one of the Greatest Generation.
Inouye, the second-longest serving senator, joined the Senate in 1963. He was the first ever Japanese-American senator, and the first ever Japanese-American member of the House before that.
He was known as an iconoclast in the Senate. He was an unfailing advocate for his beloved state of Hawaii, and for fellow veterans. You may not have always agreed with Inouye, but he was the kind of political leader that always gave you the feeling that he was truly voting with his heart.
The Medal of Honor winner fought across Italy in the Second World War, gained a battlefield commission, and was once shot directly in the heart, only to be saved by the round hitting a silver dollar he was carrying. He suffered multiple wounds, and lost his arm in the engagement that earned him the Nation’s highest award.
Inouye was admired by his colleagues, regardless of party. He was a genuinely decent man who really did not embrace the bitter contentiousness presently found in Washington.
He will be missed, and the American Congress will be the less for losing this patriot.