The U.S. Capitol Historical Society joins all Americans in mourning the passing of Senator Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii on December 17, 2012.

Sarasin presents award to Inouye

USCHS President Ron Sarasin (right) presented Sen. Inouye (and Rep. John Dingell, not pictured) with its annual Freedom Award in 2011.

The brief outlines of his life cannot begin to do justice to the goodness and decency of the man.

Senator Daniel K. Inouye was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on September 7, 1924, and was named after a Methodist minister who had adopted his mother. In March 1943, he enlisted in the U.S. Army’s 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the famed “Go for Broke” regiment. He saw combat in Italy and Southern France and was badly wounded during an engagement  for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, which was later upgraded to the Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest award for military valor.

With financial assistance from the G.I. Bill, Inouye graduated from the University of Hawaii and the George Washington University Law School. When Hawaii became a state on August 21, 1959, Daniel Inouye won election to the United States House of Representatives as the new state’s first Congressman. Elected to the United States Senate in 1962, he served nearly half a century representing Hawaii in the Senate. Following the death of Sen. Robert Byrd in June 2010, he became President pro tempore of the Senate.

In 2008 the Society interviewed Senator Inouye as part of our series of oral history interviews with Asian Pacific American Members of Congress. The final question in those interviews was always the same. We asked “How would you like to be remembered?” Senator Inouye’s answer was the shortest—and the best. (Click below for his answer; visit our website for the full interview or a pdf transcript.)

Thank you, Senator; you did your best and it was more than good enough.