POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Dec 18, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 10:15 a.m. HST, Dec 18, 2012
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's announcement of the death of Hawaii's senior Sen. Daniel Inouye touched off a round of tributes on the Senate floor Monday, capped by emotional remarks from Inouye's longtime Hawaii colleague, retiring Sen. Daniel K. Akaka.
Reid called Inouye "a giant of the Senate."
"His service to the Senate will be with the greats of this body," said Reid (D-Nev.).
During a 14-minute eulogy, Akaka said, "I am going to miss Dan."
Reid recalled a story about Inouye's son asking him why he had volunteered to fight in War World II, even though the U.S. had declared Japanese-Americans "enemy aliens." Reid said of Inouye's response, "He did it for the children. That's Senator Inouye."
LEAHY NAMED THIRD IN LINE OF SUCCESSION
WASHINGTON >>Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont is now third in the line of presidential succession.
The Senate late Monday passed a resolution approving Leahy as president pro tempore. He would replace Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye, who died Monday.
The seven-term Leahy would be third in line to the presidency, behind the vice president and the speaker of the House.
Leahy also is in line to replace Inouye as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The 72-year-old Leahy currently is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
——— Associated Press
In a written statement, Reid added, "My dear friend, Sen. Daniel Inouye, the senior senator from Hawaii, was one of the finest men I have known in my lifetime. He was one of the most distinguished senators this body has ever seen. He was a soldier of incomparable bravery and a man of uncommon decency, and it is with deep sadness that I mark his passing."
Inouye, a senator since January 1963, was the longest-serving senator and was president pro tempore of the Senate, third in the line of presidential succession behind the vice president and the House speaker.
Akaka, who just last week gave his farewell speech to the Senate, spoke of Inouye's military record, noting that like other Japanese-Americans, Inouye "really served our country well."
Akaka recalled that following World War II, he submitted the names of more than 100 veterans to the Pentagon after their heroism had been overlooked. He said he was gratified that 21 of them, including Inouye, were selected to receive the Medal of Honor.
He said Inouye became the first Japanese-American to serve in Congress when he was elected to the House in 1959, the year Hawaii became a state. He won election to the Senate three years later.
"Dan Inouye is truly one of the great leaders of this country," Akaka said.
Arizona Sen. John McCain in floor remarks said that "one of the most shameful chapters of American history took place during World War II. In an incredible act of injustice, the United States of America decided to intern Japanese-Americans who lived in California."
"People were incarcerated because they happened to be ethnic Japanese."
McCain recalled that Inouye enlisted like many Japanese-Americans and became a member of an Army unit that was one of the most decorated in World War II.
The Arizona Republican said that he didn't always agree with Inouye, especially on the use of appropriations bills.
But McCain added, "No one, no one, ever accused Dan Inouye of partisanship or unfairness."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky praised Inouye as a man of uncommon modesty.
"He had every reason to call attention to himself, but never did," McConnell said in a written statement. "He was the kind of man, in short, that America has always been grateful to have, especially in her darkest hours: Men who lead by example and expect nothing in return."