President Barack Obama joined lawmakers, allies and family friends at a memorial service today honoring the life of Senator Daniel Inouye, the war hero who represented Hawaii since statehood in 1959.
Obama, who was born in Hawaii, called Inouye one of “my earliest political inspirations.” He recalled that as a child, seeing Inouye on television during the Watergate hearings, “hinted to me what might be possible in my own life.”
Like others who paid tribute to Inouye during a service at Washington National Cathedral, Obama said the late senator served the nation with “fundamental integrity.”
Tributes were also made by former President Bill Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.
Inouye, a Democrat and the most senior U.S. senator, died Dec. 17 of respiratory complications. He was 88.
Inouye, an American of Japanese ancestry who lost his right arm fighting for the U.S. in World War II, served 50 years in Congress , winning the House seat in 1959 and the Senate seat in 1962. He was the second longest-serving lawmaker in history after the late Robert Byrd of West Virginia, who served 51 1/2 years.
Biden, who served with Inouye in the Senate, said he was “a historic figure” who overcame prejudice as he “fought for the country he loved”
Inouye’s body is scheduled to arrive in Hawaii tomorrow, where he will lie in state at the state Capitol from 5 p.m. to midnight local time, the Honolulu Star Advertiser reported.