Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Second-Longest Serving Senator in U.S. History, Dies at 88

The U.S. Senate's most senior member, Daniel Inouye (D-HI) died today of respiratory complications at the age of 88, USA Today reports:

InouyeSenate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced the news of Inouye's death on the Senate floor, sparking a round of tributes for the man Reid called "a giant of the Senate." Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., hailed Inouye's service and his reserve as a mark of "men who lead by example and expect nothing in return."

Under Hawaii law, Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie will appoint a successor to Inouye until a special election can be held.

The NYT adds:

Inouye was a World War II hero and Medal of Honor winner who lost an arm to a German hand grenade during a battle in Italy. He became the first Japanese-American to serve in Congress, when he was elected to the House in 1959, the year Hawaii became a state. He won election to the Senate three years later and served there longer than anyone in American history except Robert Byrd of West Virginia, who died in 2010 after 51 years in the Senate.

One of 14 senators to vote against DOMA in 1996, Inouye also voted against a federal marriage amendment and voted for hate crimes legislation, and sponsored both ENDA and the Student Non-Discrimination Act. He was a strong supporter of the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".

Inouye's last word was "aloha".



  1. Tom says

    Aloha, We need more men like him today who stand up to the bullies in Government and keep America free with justice for all. Aloha, till we meet again my friend.

  2. AB says

    Senator Inouye was a hero to this country, and an amazing leader for the minority communities within it, particularly the Native community. He was the chair or vice-chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs for years, and was–without a doubt–one of the only Senators with a true commitment to Indian Country.

  3. Frank Butterfield says

    So goes a very great man. Mahalo.

    If you want to know a bit about what he went through before and during World War II, read “Hawaii” by James Michener. One of the Nisei characters, Captain Shigeno Sakayama, is based on Inouye.

    There is a gruesome description of his platoon fighting at Monte Cassino, trying to capture it from a German position at the top of the hill. I was once driving up the A1 from Naples to Rome and passed by this amazingly impenetrable fortress on a rock that juts out into the Liri Valley and was stunned to see that it’s actually more steep and inaccessible than Michener describes in the book. Very humbling experience.

  4. andrew says

    We shouldn’t feel too sad at the death of this great human being. His was a long life well lived.

  5. Icebloo says

    He sounds like a decent guy. He supported all the right issues. What a shame we lose another great one – why can’t the Tea Party people die ?

  6. ratbastard says

    They’re all dead or dying now. And what guts the senator had as both a young and old man. You had to grow up fast in his time. Hard to believe that when he was a young man MILLIONS of people were dying in a war that would eventually kill 80-100 million people.

    Now today we’ve got a lot of professional whiners, delayed adolescence and 20 something ‘kids’ living in their mom’s basement playing Call of Duty and shooting up first graders.

    The way Japanese-Americans were initially treated at during WW2 was shameful. Rounded up, their land and businesses literally stolen at pennies on the dollar or outright. Canada did the same thing. A real disgrace. RIP senator.

  7. ColinATL says

    I briefly worked for the Senator after college, and his mild-mannered nature belied a true great of the Senate. So intelligent, so wise, and he gave up so much for a country that looked askance at him for the first half of his life. Such a great loss. Aloha, Senator.

  8. Jeffrey in St. Louis says

    Sadly, I’m reminded that ‘aloha’ also means goodbye.

    Aloha, Senator. We will miss you greatly.

  9. anon says

    Mandatory retirement for all federal officials by age 75 would be an excellent reform. Several people in line for presidential succession are over 70, and many members of congress are completely ineffectual at their advanced age.

    Being a war hero alas does not translate into anything else. John McCain was a war hero, but also an impulsive nut with anger management issues who would have been temperamentally terrible as president.

  10. Alexis says

    ICEBLOO — I am a Tea Party member who always respected Senator Inouye and I deeply mourn his passing. But I do believe the US critically needs to balance its budget, for a number of reasons, and that is why I support the Tea Party. Do you believe I deserve to die for believing that?