Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) shared the news on the Senate floor December 17, that fellow senator and longtime stalwart Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) walked on. Since the news was delivered many in Washington D.C. have shared statements on the passing of the second longest serving member of the Senate.
Some of their thoughts are below:
President Barack Obama – “Tonight, our country has lost a true American hero. In Washington, he worked to strengthen our military, forge bipartisan consensus, and hold those of us in government accountable to the people we were elected to serve,” Obama said. “But it was his incredible bravery during World War II – including one heroic effort that cost him his arm but earned him the Medal of Honor – that made Danny not just a colleague and a mentor, but someone revered by all of us lucky enough to know him.”
Vice President Joe Biden – "He was one of the most honorable men I ever met in my life, and one of the best friends you could hope for. He was honest, and fiercely loyal, and I trusted him absolutely."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) – “His service to the Senate will be with the greats of this body.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) – “He had every reason to call attention to himself, but never did. He was the kind of man, in short, that America has always been grateful to have, especially in her darkest hours: Men who lead by example and expect nothing in return.”
Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), chair of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee – “It is very difficult for me to bid aloha to my good friend, colleague, and brother Dan Inouye. Senator Inouye was a true patriot and American hero in every sense. His legacy is not only the loving family he leaves behind, it can be seen in every mile of every road in Hawaii, in every nature preserve, in every facility that makes Hawaii a safer place.
“Dan fulfilled his dream of creating a better Hawaii. He gave us access to the resources and facilities of the mainland states took for granted. He leaves behind him a list of accomplishments unlikely to ever be paralleled.
“Tomorrow will be the first day since Hawaii became a state in 1959 that Dan Inouye will not be representing us in Congress. But every child born in Hawaii will learn of Dan Inouye, a man who changed our islands forever.
“I join all of the people of Hawaii in praying for his wife Irene, his son Ken and daughter-in-law Jessica, his step-daughter Jennifer, and his granddaughter Maggie, who brought him so much joy in this life and carries his legacy forward.
“Dan, my dear friend and colleague. You will be missed in Washington as much as you will be missed in Hawaii. Rest in peace.”
Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) – "The Senate lost ... a unique, brave, wonderful legislator today. Very important pieces of legislation came about from that committee. He loved the Native Americans. He knew that Native Americans had been wronged in our history. He knew that solemn treaties must be honored by our government even if those treaties sometimes meant that there would be significant expenditures of America's tax dollars."
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar – "From statehood until today, Senator Inouye has represented the people of Hawaii with courage and conviction. We have lost a true American hero this evening, but Danny’s legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of those he touched over his eight decades of service to the nation he loved and cherished. His indelible mark on American politics will forever remind us of a patriot who always put the people above his party. I am honored to call him a mentor and a colleague, but I am most proud to call him a true friend."
Secretary of the State Hillary Clinton – “I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my friend, Danny Inouye. From his earliest days in public service to his last, he inspired others to reach for the American dream – because that’s exactly what he did.
“No matter what barrier was in his way, Danny shattered it. He was the highest-ranking Asian-American politician in history and the first Japanese-American to serve in the House of Representatives and Senate. He was a soldier, a Medal of Honor recipient and a hero. But despite the accolades from a lifetime of service, he never lost his humility and compassion.
“Danny was an icon in his native state of Hawaii and a tireless advocate for the disenfranchised, minorities and women throughout the country. He spent his life working for a brighter future, and we are all better off for it. I will always cherish his friendship and guidance in the Senate. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Irene, and all those whose lives he touched.”
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta – "The men and women of the Department of Defense have lost one of their most dedicated advocates, and I have lost a dear friend, with the passing of Sen. Daniel Inouye. His life of service to the people of Hawaii and to this nation embodied the essence of the American dream, and the heroism of the greatest generation.
"A World War II veteran of the legendary 442nd Regimental Combat Team, his display of leadership and valor in a gun battle that cost him his arm rightfully earned him the Medal of Honor. His determination to recover and his extraordinary career that followed continue to inspire wounded warriors today. In the U.S. Senate, he was one of the most stalwart and effective advocates of the Department of Defense, and a relentless champion of our men and women in uniform and their families. I was honored to have the opportunity to work closely with him when I served as a member of Congress, and in the Clinton and Obama administrations.
"Daniel Inouye's legacy will long endure in the better quality of life he helped bring to generations of military personnel and their families, to the people of Hawaii, and in the contribution he made to a stronger defense of the United States of America. The thoughts and prayers of all of us at the Department of Defense are with the Inouye family in this time of grief and remembrance."
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius – “I am deeply saddened by the news of Senator Daniel Inouye’s passing. Senator Inouye was a trailblazer in public service and a staunch champion for the mission of the Department of Health and Human Services.
“He was a strong advocate for advancing the health and well-being of the American people – from promoting biomedical research to addressing issues affecting veterans, Native Hawaiians, and American Indians and Alaska Natives.
“Like many of his generation, Senator Inouye dedicated his life to public service. He was a decorated World War II veteran and served in public office for more than six decades. As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, he provided leadership to advance the Affordable Care Act. He was a strong supporter of the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Native Hawaiian Health Care Program and Community Health Centers, which provide critical care to vulnerable populations. And he was an influential advocate for behavioral health research at the National Institutes of Health and mental health training programs at HRSA.
“I extend my condolences to Senator Inouye's family, colleagues, and friends. He has left a lasting legacy on the American people.”
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki – "Senator Daniel K. Inouye stood among the 'greatest' of our 'Greatest Generation.' Recipient of the Medal of Honor, our Nation's highest award for valor; distinguished service as a long-serving member of the U.S. Senate; and role model to generations of Americans of Asian-Pacific Islander heritage, especially those growing up in his beloved Hawaii, Senator Inouye made public service a noble and honorable calling.
“Dan Inouye's courage on the battlefield and in Congress, his passion for making a difference in the lives of average Americans, and his intense modesty spoke volumes about a remarkable American, who embodied the bedrock values and quiet virtues of our Nation.
“On behalf of America's 22 million Veterans, I salute the memory of a brave man, a great patriot, a devoted public servant, an unwavering benefactor to servicemembers and veterans of every generation, and my friend and mentor. I extend my deepest personal condolences to the entire Inouye family."
Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) – “I was deeply saddened to hear of Senator Inouye’s passing today. The islands of Hawaii and the state of Alaska lost a true friend. A war hero and member of the ‘Greatest Generation,’ Senator Inouye was an institution in the Senate and was a tireless public servant for Hawaii since before its statehood. May God bless his family and staff during this difficult time.”
Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii) – “I am proud to have called Dan Inouye a friend and a mentor. His professional generosity and personal kindness have meant the world to me. I attribute a great deal of the success I have enjoyed to his willingness to share with a smile, and to guide with a gentle word. I will miss him, and I join our state and our nation in mourning the loss of a great American and a wonderful man.”
Congresswoman and Senator elect Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) – “I join the people of Hawaii in mourning the passing of Senator Daniel Inouye. This is a tremendous loss for Hawaii and our nation, and I am deeply saddened and shocked my longtime friend is no longer with us.
“History will remember Dan Inouye as a decorated war hero – a Medal of Honor recipient – and monumental figure in Hawaii's statehood. Throughout his life, he fought and sacrificed for the ideals of freedom and justice. His record speaks for itself. Despite his significant accomplishments, Dan Inouye never forgot where he came from. His values, work, and sense of honor were strongly rooted in Hawaii, and he pursued his vision for America with humility and bipartisanship. It has been an honor and privilege to serve with him in Congress, and I will work to see that we continue to build on the strong foundation he has left Hawaii and the United States of America.
"My heart goes out to his wife Irene Hirano Inouye, his son Daniel Ken Inouye Jr., and the many family, friends, colleagues, and citizens who will miss him dearly. While we lost a great public servant and human being today, his memory is guaranteed to live on for generations to come."
Congresswoman elect Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) – "I am deeply saddened at the passing of Senator Inouye. He is a true American hero, sacrificing in battle and breaking the barriers of prejudice that existed during World War II. After serving so admirably and bravely, Dan Inouye returned to Hawaii and began his distinguished career as an elected servant of the people.
"Senator Inouye was a true servant-leader who inspired so many to step up and serve Hawaii and our nation. The fact his last word was ‘Aloha’ speaks volumes about this iconic leader.
"He has and will continue to be an inspiration and mentor to me and countless others around the world. I extend my deepest aloha to his family and all who were touched by his life and legacy."