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December 19, 2012

Sen. Inouye Remembered for His Courage and Service

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Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye passed away this week after spending nearly 50 years in the Senate. His colleagues, his constituents and people around the country are now remembering Inouye for his heroism in war, his decades of service and his reputation as a consensus -builder.

Inouye was born in Honolulu in 1924 to immigrant parents, and on Dec. 7, 1941 he rushed to help the wounded at Pearl Harbor. Despite the fact that during WWII the U.S. government declared Japanese Americans enemy aliens, Inouye looked for ways to prove his commitment to his country.

After petitioning the U.S. government for the right to serve his country in the military, he joined the 442nd Combat Team, which was composed of American citizens of Japanese ancestry, and served in the war effort in Europe.

In April 1945, 20-year-old Lieutenant Inouye led an assault on dug-in machine guns in Italy. He destroyed all three emplacements after being shot in the stomach and having his right arm nearly severed. It was later amputated.

When Hawaii was first admitted as a U.S. state in 1959, Inouye served in the House of Representatives, and was then elected to the Senate in 1963. Therefore when he died, he was the last remaining member of a state’s original congressional delegation.

In the end, Inouye was the second longest-serving senator ever, and as president pro tem of the Senate, he was third in line to succeed the president. Upon his passing, Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy was sworn into that post.


“With all due respect to the president of the United States, Daniel Inouye is Hawaii’s greatest statesman. He was the master chess player. He always saw things three moves ahead, whether that was nationally or for Hawaii,” Peter Boylan, Inouye deputy chief of staff.

Warm up questions

1. Who are your senators? What do you know about them?

2. What do senators do?

3. How is the Senate different from the House of Representatives?

Discussion questions

1. What do you think makes a good senator?

2. What part of Inouye’s legacy do you find most interesting?

3. Why might it be important to have military veterans serving in Congress?

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