Maui News

Inouye Honored with Presidential Medal of Freedom

November 20, 2013, 2:08 PM HST
* Updated November 20, 4:19 PM
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Late US Sen. Daniel Inouye. Photo courtesy, US Army Pacific.

Late US Sen. Daniel Inouye. Photo courtesy, US Army Pacific.

By Wendy Osher

Late US Senator Daniel Inouye was honored posthumously by President Barack Obama this morning with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. 

He is among a list of 16 individuals that were honored during the ceremony.  This list also included former President Bill Clinton, and Oprah Winfrey.

“As the second longest serving senator in American history, he showed a generation of young people, including one kid with a funny name growing up in Hawaiʻi who noticed that there was somebody during those hearings in Washington that didn’t look like everybody else which meant that I had a chance to do something important too,” said President Obama during the ceremony.

“He thought always that no matter what you looked like or where you come from this country has a place for everybody who’s willing to serve and work hard,” said President Obama.

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Governor Neil Abercrombie was among those who issued a statement in celebration of the honor saying, “The senator gave everything in his devotion to Hawaiʻi Nei and our nation, a fact now recognized by two United States presidents and two of our nation’s highest honors. I can think of no-one more deserving of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His service was the epitome of valor and the aloha spirit.”

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“The people of Hawaiʻi cherish Dan’s legacy of courage, integrity and service, and we offer our deepest gratitude to the Inouye family,” said Governor Abercrombie.

Senator Mazie K. Hirono of Hawaiʻi was among those who joined President Obama at the White House today for the special event.

“It was a privilege to join Irene, Ken and so many others to pay tribute to Senator Inouye’s many accomplishments and dedication to Hawaiʻi and our nation. Although he carried himself with humility and often deflected credit, there is no doubt his work laid the foundation of modern Hawaiʻi. While no-one will ever replace Senator Inouye, we can all honor his legacy by dedicating ourselves to serving and strengthening our communities and nation,” said Senator Hirono.

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In 2000, Senator Inouye was presented with the Medal of Honor, the US military’s highest award, for his service in World War II. In 2011, Congress awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to the 100th Infantry Battalion, Military Intelligence Service and 442nd Regimental Combat Team, of which Inouye was a member.

Today’s medal ceremony comes one day after the announced the selection of an architectural design team for the Daniel K. Inouye Center at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa.

University officials say the center will serve as a living legacy and place of learning that inspires democratic leadership in future generations.

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