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Hawaii bids aloha to U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye

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    2012 December 22 CTY - Inouye at Capitol - The flag-draped casket of the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye is carried by a Hawaii National Guard honor guard, arrives at the State Capitol. HSA photo by Bruce Asato

A  crowd of several hundred Hawaii residents joined dignitaries at the state Capitol to pay respects to U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye this afternoon.

A procession led by Hawaiian chanters and the blowing of conch shell  led Inouye’s casket, draped in an American flag and carried by a military honor guard, into the Capitol rotunda  at 5 p.m.

Most of those assembled wore black. There was a smattering of men in white shirts and blue and red 442nd Regimental Combat Team caps. Inouye was awarded a Medal of Honor for bravery after serving with the team in World War II  before his a sterling career in Congress that began at Hawaii’s statehood in 1959.

As the service began, the Celtic Pipes and Drums of Hawaii played an upbeat rendition of Danny Boy, one of the senator’s favorite songs.

House Speaker Calvin Say said that Inouye taught him that “trust was the greatest currency in the world.”

Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald said Inouye’s life teaches us to “do what’s right, don’t forget your roots, and to speak for those who don’t have a voice.”

Kaimuki resident Denis Salle, 45, brought sons Milan, 10, and Etienne, 8, to view the ceremony.

“I wanted my kids to see Sen. Inouye’s last appearance,” Salle said. “He was a figure that stood for a lot of values.”

“Rest easy, you are at home with us in paradise,” Abercrombie said in his remarks.

The formal service ended with the playing of “Aloha ‘Oe.” Then the honor guard brought Inouye’s casket to the center of the rotunda, where it will lie in state until midnight.Inouye died Monday a respiratory illness. He was 88.

The second longest-serving senator in U.S. history, he was president pro tempore at the time of his death.

Instead of flowers, Inouye’s family is requesting contributions to the Daniel K. Inouye fund in care of the Hawaii Community Foundation.

Visitors began signing condolence books at the governor’s office on Friday, with additional books available at today’s service. 

Inouye is just one of several Hawaii icons to lie in state at the Capitol in Honolulu. Sen. Hiram Fong was honored the same way in 2004, as was U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink in 2002 and singer Israel Kamakawiwoole in 1997.

The service and visitation brought a steady stream of mourners toward downtown Honolulu one day before another service for Inouye was scheduled at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Obama plans to attend that ceremony, White House officials said

Inouye, who lost his right arm in a battle with Germans in Italy in World War II, was the first Japanese-American elected to the Senate. 

He became known as a solo economic power in his home state as part of the Senate Appropriations Committee, where he steered federal money toward Hawaii to build roads, schools and housing. 

Colleagues and aides lined the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol on Thursday to bid aloha to Inouye during a rare ceremony to demonstrate the respect he earned over decades. 

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