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Second-longest-serving senator Daniel Inouye dies at 88

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 18th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

World War II veteran and the second-longest-serving U.S. senator of all time Daniel Inouye has passed away. Inouye was being treated to regulate his oxygen intake when he died at Walter reed National Military Medical Center. His son and wife were by his side when he passed at the age of 88.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Inouye had won his ninth consecutive term in 2010. His five decades in the Senate was only surpassed by Senator 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.

Both Democratic and Republican senators took to the chamber floor Monday to mourn his death. 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." "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."

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

"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, losing an arm while charging machine gun nests in San Terenzo, Italy, earning him the Medal of Honor.

Of Japanese heritage, Inouye served in an Army unit made up of Japanese-Americans. His battalion was the most decorated unit of the war. It came at a time when many Japanese Americans were forced to stay in government internment camps due to 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.

Senator Bob Dole said his friend Inouye 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.

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