Officials, from Hawaii to Washington, are mourning the loss of former U.S. Sen. Dan Akaka who died early this morning at a St. Francis care facility. In Twitter posts and news releases, they fondly remember the legacy of the beloved leader.
Gov. David Ige: The governor ordered that the U.S. and state flag be flown at half-staff at the Capitol, Hawaii National Guard, and state offices and agencies in memory of Akaka until sunset on the day of Sen. Akaka’s interment. The governor issued this statement: “Our beloved Sen. Akaka lived a life of service and aloha, and each of us in Hawaiʻi has benefited in countless ways. Our state mourns the loss of this man of upright character. While we celebrate his military service and dedication to our nation’s veterans, his advocacy of the Hawaiian language and culture, and his work in Congress to recognize Filipino veterans, he was first and foremost a family man. Dawn and I send our condolences to Auntie Millie and the entire Akaka ʻOhana. A hui hou, Sen. Akaka.”
U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono: “Senator Daniel Kahikina Akaka embodied the Aloha Spirit. He dedicated his life to serving the people of Hawaii as an educator, and in the U.S. Army, state government, the U.S. House, and the U.S. Senate. In Congress, Senator Akaka’s care, empathy, and collegiality served as an example for us all. It’s an honor to sit at his desk in the Senate chamber, and we continue his work to improve the lives of veterans and the Native Hawaiian community. My thoughts are with Millie and the Akaka ohana in this difficult time. As he so often said, mahalo nui loa, my friend.”
U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz: “Daniel K. Akaka was beloved by everyone in Hawaii, and his colleagues of both parties in Washington DC. A pure heart, a determined warrior for native Hawaiians, and a true public servant. We will miss you, Senator Akaka. Aloha.”
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa: “Hawaii’s heart is broken this morning as we learn of the passing of one of Hawaii’s greatest statesman. Thank you, Senator Akaka, for your legacy of courage and love. You taught Congress and our nation how to fight with dignity and Aloha. We all aspire to lead like you. Senator’s passionate advocacy on behalf of Hawaii, Native Hawaiians, his students, veterans, and his contributions to our community and humanity cannot easily be measured. He gave his heart to Hawaii. Our thoughts and prayers are with Aunty Millie and the entire Akaka Ohana.
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: “Senator Akaka truly embodied the aloha spirit & selflessly dedicated his life to serving others. He treated everyone equally, with kindness, respect & love – no matter who they were or how they treated him. He responded always with aloha, sharing his warm smile & embrace w/ all. I’m so grateful to have known & worked with him over the years & to have spent time with him the last few days. He impacted the lives of countless people. His legacy of aloha will live on thru all who continue to be inspired by his example. We love you, Senator Akaka. A hui hou.”
Former Vice President Al Gore: “I, along with everyone who had the privilege to know him, will greatly miss Senator Danny Akaka. He was a dear friend and a great public servant. One of the highlights of my political career was being a part of the freshman class of the 95th United States Congress with Daniel Akaka. Danny was the embodiment of Hawaii’s treasured spirit of Aloha. He was soft-spoken, humble, and unfailingly polite – attributes that earned him admiration and respect, and that stand in stark contrast to the bitter, partisan atmosphere that permeates Capitol Hill today. He was also smart and hard-working — and totally dedicated to the public interest. Later, we served together in the U.S. Senate, and as Vice President, I remained grateful for his support on important policies. Every time our nation needed Daniel Akaka, he was there. He defended our nation in World War II. He protected our natural resources every chance he got. And he spent decades making each day a bit better for the people he represented and loved.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren: “Senator Daniel Akaka leaves a remarkable legacy. A veteran and the first US senator of Native Hawaiian descent, he was a passionate champion for veterans, for Native Hawaiians, for tribal self-determination, and for justice. My condolences to his family.”
Hawaii House Speaker Scott Saiki: “Senator Akaka served Hawaii with dignity, respect and humility. He never lost sight of his values and the need to protect our state and its people. Hawaii has lost an extraordinary statesman.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell: “Senator Akaka lived a life of love, kindness & aloha. I never heard him utter an unkind comment about a single person. He represented the best of Hawaii and set the highest standard for all of us to achieve in terms of human decency. I will miss his quiet leadership. Our hearts got out to Millie and his entire family.”
Hawaii Supreme Court Justice Mark E. Recktenwald: “On behalf of the Hawaii State Judiciary, I extend our sympathy and aloha to Mrs. Akaka and the Akaka ohana. From teaching in our public schools to representing Hawaii in Congress with distinction for more than 35 years, Senator Akaka was a true public servant who always had the best interests of Hawaii’s people in his heart. He exemplified aloha in everything he did, and treated everyone with kindness, warmth and respect. Although we will miss his warm smile and wise leadership, he will always remind us of the power of a life guided by the aloha spirit.”
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer: “In everything he did, as a soldier, a teacher and as a statesman, Senator Daniel Akaka embodied the spirit of Hawaii. For all he taught us, for his service and his friendship, we say ‘Mahalo’ one final time.”
U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi: “From his service during WWII, to his 30 yrs representing the people of Hawaii in the halls of Congress, Daniel Akaka’s legacy of action & activism represent the best of America. May it be a comfort to his family that so many join in celebrating the life of this extraordinary man.”
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez: “Today, we lost a kindhearted leader. His legacy is an inspiration to us all. Rest easy, Senator Akaka.”
Lt. Gov. Doug Chin: Former U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka epitomized the true meaning of aloha. He treated everyone with genuine kindness, grace, and compassion. We deeply mourn his passing and send our heartfelt sympathies to his family. Rest in peace and love, Senator Akaka.”