Hawaii’s largest airport was formally renamed the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport this morning in a poignant ceremony in the Honolulu facility’s atrium building, which sits under the new signage.
The airport’s third renaming was to honor the late senator, who died at age 88 on Dec. 17, 2012, after serving in office for more than half a century. During his career, friends and family said Inouye helped secure annual funding to develop and maintain the former Honolulu International Airport.
“The airport was very special to him. I’m sure he’s here in spirit and would be very happy with the work that’s being done,” said his widow Irene Inouye, who spoke at the ceremony along with Inouye’s son Ken Inouye.
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who was Inouye’s political protegee, said the name change helps ensure that the next generation does not forget the famous senator’s many contributions. When people see the signage, Hanabusa said, she hopes that they will ask, “Who is Daniel K. Inouye?”
“After all, his stories that we know and cherish aren’t going to be remembered , but (the signage) will prompt people,” she said.
Hopefully, Hanabusa said, his memory will inspire “generations to come to do even a fraction of what he was able to do.”
State Senate President Ron Kouchi and Rep. Scott Nishimoto, a former Inouye staff member, introduced resolutions last year in the state Legislature that made the name change possible.
The state Department of Transportation held today’s ceremony to officially mark a change that was made on April 27 when the Federal Aviation Administration approved the new name. The FAA will continue to use the HNL airport code.
The airport first opened in 1927 as the John Rodgers Airport for the commander who led the first attempt to fly from the mainland to Hawaii. It was renamed Honolulu Airport in 1947 and became Honolulu International Airport in 1951.