Sen. Inouye eulogized at Hawaii memorial service

Sen. Daniel Inouye was honored Sunday for his service in World War II and as a longtime member of the U.S. Congress. "Daniel was the best senator among us all," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said.

HONOLULU — The late Sen. Daniel Inouye was remembered Sunday as an American hero whose legacy as a war veteran and longtime senator would be felt across Hawaii for years to come.

The memorial service at Honolulu's National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific was attended by more than 1,000 people, including President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Hawaii's congressional delegation and a number of other senators, cabinet secretaries and other dignitaries.

"Daniel was the best senator among us all," Reid told those assembled. "Whenever we needed a noble man to lean on, we turned to Sen. Dan Inouye. He was fearless."

The cemetery is the final resting place for thousands of World War II veterans. More than 400 members of the storied Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team — of which Inouye was a part — are buried at the site.

Several 442nd veterans attended the Sunday morning service, the latest in a number of tributes and honors for Inouye following the 88-year-old's Dec. 17 death from respiratory complications.

A 19-gun cannon salute was fired as Inouye's coffin arrived at the cemetery. The service also featured a flyover by F-22 military jets and the playing of "Taps" by Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana.

Inouye's widow, who was seated with the president and first lady Michelle Obama in the front row, dabbed her eyes as a pipes and drums band played "Danny Boy."

Inouye was the first Japanese-American elected to both houses of Congress and the second-longest serving senator in U.S. history.

He was a high school senior in Honolulu on Dec. 7, 1941, when he watched dozens of Japanese planes fly toward Pearl Harbor and other Oahu military bases to begin a bombing run that changed the course of world events.

He volunteered for a special U.S. Army unit of Japanese-Americans and lost his right arm in a battle with Germans in Italy. That scratched his dream of becoming a surgeon and he went to law school and into politics instead.

"He was a shining star of the greatest generation," fellow Hawaii Democratic Sen. Daniel Akaka said at the service.

Akaka also highlighted Inouye's role in steering federal money to build roads, schools and housing in Hawaii over the decades, from the beginning of statehood.

"Dan Inouye is Hawaii and Hawaii is Dan Inouye," Akaka said.

Several services have already been held in Washington and in Hawaii for Inouye. He lay in state at both the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Thursday and the Hawaii state Capitol on Saturday.

Obama eulogized Inouye during a service at Washington's National Cathedral on Friday, saying that Inouye's presence during the Watergate hearings helped show him what could be possible in his own life.

The president arrived early Saturday in Honolulu for his annual Christmas family vacation. He made a brief visit to the grave of his grandfather, World War II veteran Stanley Dunham, after Sunday's service.

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