POSTED: 05:58 a.m. HST, Dec 20, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 03:43 a.m. HST, Dec 21, 2012
WASHINGTON » The body of Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii arrived today at the U.S. Capitol, where former colleagues and the public had a rare opportunity to pay respects to a man who served his country as a soldier in World War II and was a U.S. senator for 50 years.
Inouye was to lie in state throughout the day in the Capitol Rotunda. The tribute demonstrated the respect and good will that lawmakers in both parties had toward the soft-spoken but powerful Democratic chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Inouye died Monday from respiratory complications. He was 88.
Only 31 people have lain in the Capitol rotunda. The last was former President Gerald R. Ford nearly six years ago. The last senator so honored was Democrat Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota in 1978.
"He was an institution unto himself, and he deserves to spend one more day in this institution, to which he dedicated his life's work," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
Before Inouye made a mark as a politician, he did so as a war hero who lost his right arm while leading his platoon into battle on a ridge in Italy. He was awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military honor.
Following Hawaii's statehood in 1959, Inouye became its first congressman. He won election to the Senate in 1962. He was the first Japanese-American elected to both the House and Senate and was serving his ninth term in the Senate when he died. As a legislator, his specialty was steering federal money to his home state to develop the kinds of roads, schools and housing other Americans had on the mainland.
After a morning service and the ceremonial laying of wreaths, a viewing that would be open to the public was planned.
Inouye's body will be escorted Friday to the Washington National Cathedral and will be returned to Hawaii on Saturday.