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Akaka becomes first recipient of Aloha Order of Merit

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 01:24 p.m. HST, Jan 14, 2013

Former U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka today became the first recipient of the Aloha Order of Merit award from the state Legislature and the governor.

Akaka, who retired earlier this year after having served in the U.S. Senate for 22 years, was lauded as a true statesman of Hawaii and the embodiment of the Aloha Spirit.

"To me, the Aloha Spirit exemplifies what makes Hawaii so special, so unique in this country," he said.

The Aloha Order of Merit was established by the Legislature in 1993. It recognizes individuals who have "distinguished themselves nationally or internationally and who contributed to the attainment of statehood or have provided extraordinary service to, devoted themselves to the betterment of, or brought honor to the state."

Sen. Brickwood Galuteria, chairman of the selection committee, called it one of the highest honors bestowed by the state.  

Akaka served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1976 to 1990, when he became the first Native Hawaiian to reach the U.S. Senate. Akaka, also the first Polynesian-American senator, was appointed after the death of Spark Matsunaga.

Akaka served as chairman of the Senate veterans affairs committee from 2007 to 2011, then became chairman of the Indian affairs committee.

He retired after not running for re-election last year, opening Hawaii's first U.S. Senate seat in a generation, and was replaced by U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono.

Honorees are allowed to serve as emissaries for the people of Hawaii if requested by the governor. They're selected by a committee and approved through a concurrent resolution in the Legislature.

The ceremony included a medal presentation, a chant and prayer by Akaka's son and musical performances.

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HonoluluHawaii wrote:
It seems sad that the other Dan was not the first recipient of this award, especially because it was created 20 years ago when Dan was 68. Notice also who is standing beside Dan, the person who rejected Colleen.
on January 14,2013 | 12:33PM
Fred01 wrote:
Sooooo glad Colleen was rejected!
on January 14,2013 | 12:50PM
entrkn wrote:
Agree... But we need a person in their 30s who would have immediate dynamic impact in the Senate and Tulsi Gabbard would be my choice, and she would be a great teammate with Senator Schatz.
on January 14,2013 | 02:44PM
allie wrote:
on January 14,2013 | 01:06PM
false wrote:
Such a nice man with 22 years of service.
on January 14,2013 | 01:49PM
serious wrote:
Remember he also got the Time magazine award. Most inefficient Senator. Jones Act?????
on January 14,2013 | 01:57PM
mrluke wrote:
I re-read the story twice but still must have missed something. The award's been around for 20 years, but he's the FIRST recipient? Just what are the qualifications? Being Mr. Nice Guy?
on January 14,2013 | 02:47PM
Ken_Conklin wrote:
The man who created and pushed the racist Akaka bill for 13 years should never be recognized "as a true statesman of Hawaii and the embodiment of the Aloha Spirit." They'd better retire this "award" because any future recipient of it will be tainted by the fact that the first recipient was Akaka.
on January 14,2013 | 03:07PM
8082062424 wrote:
sad to be you. your so full of hate.
on January 14,2013 | 03:21PM
loio wrote:
i agree with Conklin. DA's a nice, long-senile guy. Akaka bill sucks.
on January 14,2013 | 04:00PM
Coldwater wrote:
ken, thats why its made of wood. must have found a wooden nickle to make the award.
on January 14,2013 | 06:21PM
Mythman wrote:
Is the gracious and wise old senator afraid of that he is of Chinese ancestry also? There is no mention of it in this article praising him for following in the footsteps of his distinguished brother the Rev. Abraham Akaka, who created the Aloha Spirit as the Hawaiian equivalent of Christian Brotherly Love.
on January 14,2013 | 03:13PM
8082062424 wrote:
he is 25% Chinese geese would you have him say that he is Chinese instead of native Hawaiian..Maybe it has something to do with the fact he is native Hawaiian and Represented Hawaii
on January 14,2013 | 03:22PM
whaole wrote:
So deserving . . . Mahalo Uncle Dan for your aloha!
on January 14,2013 | 03:16PM
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