Daniel Inouye was a high
school senior in his native Honolulu when Japanese bombers attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
He and other Japanese-Americans had wanted desperately to be accepted, he said, and that meant going to war. He volunteered for the U.S. Army at age 18.
"I felt that there was a need for us to demonstrate that we're just as good as anybody else," said Inouye, who eventually went on to serve 50 years as a U.S. senator from Hawaii. "The price was bloody and expensive, but I felt we succeeded."
Inouye paid a high personal price. He lost his right arm while fighting a Nazi attacker in Italy in 1945. But he and other Japanese-American troops, known as Nisei, more than proved their courage in battle and laid to rest any doubts about their courage and loyalty. He earned a belated Medal of Honor.
He became the first Japanese-American to serve in Congress when Hawaii became a state. He was elected to the Senate in 1962, serving 50 years.
A quiet man, he distinguished himself as a fighter for equal rights and a force for decency throughout his long career in Washington.
He would have made a great president, but opted instead to be a great senator. His death Monday, at 88, is a loss for the Senate and the nation.
How come his peers never elected him majority leader of the senate?