Senator Daniel K. Inouye (1924-2012) was born on this day in Honolulu. He was the oldest of four children and the grandson of Japanese immigrants who worked on the sugar plantations.
Inouye once said, "A birthday is a ritual of life -- that wondrous gift that only God bestows."
He became Hawaii's first U.S. Congressman, elected to the House of Representatives in 1959, then to the Senate four years later, where he served with distinction for over 49 years.
Beloved by the people of Hawaii, in his final election in 2010, he won re-election with 75% of the vote.
Inouye delivered the keynote at the Democratic National Convention in 1968, was a member of the Watergate Senate committee in 1976, and was Chairman of the Select Committee investigating Iran-Contra affair in 1987.
"A patriot has the courage to keep his eyes open even when the most painful events occur in his midst," he said.
Inouye was a World War II hero who led the legendary 442nd Regimental Combat Team of Nisei, second generation Japanese- Americans.
"I don’t know how it got started, but pretty soon our pidgin English expression, ‘Go for broke!’ became the combat team motto. What did it mean? To give everything we did, everything we had," he said. In 1945, Inouye destroyed two German machine gun nests amid a grenade explosion that took his right arm.
The Senator, along with 21 others from the 442nd and 100th Infantry Battalion, was honored with the coveted Medal on Honor in 2000.
"I am deeply grateful to my nation for this extraordinary award. The making of a man involves many mentors. If I did well, much of the credit should go to my parents, grandparents, and the gallant men of my platoon. This is their medal. I will receive it on their behalf," Inouye said.
Organized in Hawaii, the soldiers of the 442nd Team and 100th Battalion fought in France and Italy and were the most decorated and wounded units of their sizes in Army history. Honors included: 20 Medals of Honor, 48 Distinguished Service Crosses, 560 Silver Stars, 4,000 Bronze Stars, and 9,468 Purple Hearts.
"This is my country," Inouye said. "Many of us have fought hard for the right to say that."
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