Daniel Inouye, the senior senator from Hawaii and the president pro-tempore of the US Senate, died Monday at the age of 88. was born in 1924 to Japanese immigrants in Hawaii – before Hawaii was a state.
Inouye was elected to the US House in 1959, the year Hawaii became a state. He won election to the US Senate three years later where he served for nearly 50 years.
Hawaii political commentator Dan Boylan, said Inouye made a name for himself during World War II as a member of the 442nd, a highly decorated regiment of Japanese American servicemen. Inouye lost his right arm in combat.
Boylan said Inouye and the rest of the 442nd were known for their bravery and sacrifice because they wanted to prove that they were honorable Americans. As a result, Inouye became a champion of Native American Indians, Israel and any group that was discriminated against.
Inouye knew too well the pain of discrimination. Despite becoming a war hero and decorated veteran, he was turned away at a San Francisco barber shop when he tried to get a haircut.
Boylan said incidents like that only encouraged Inouye to push for social equality.