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Friday, December 28, 2012

Medal of Honor Winner Senator Daniel Inouye Dies

On December 19, 2012, the second longest serving Senator in Congress passed. He was the Honorable Senator Daniel Inouye (D, Hawaii). I am discussing him because of his similarities between his experience as a Japanese American soldier during WWII and African American soldiers.

                                        The late Senator Daniel Inouye, Medal of Honor Receipient

Senator Inouye was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1924,  the son of Nisei Japanese American immigrants. On December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, ushering America's entry into WWII. At the time of the bombing, Senator Inouye was a medic volunteer. It was not until two years later that Congress authorized the help of the Japanese Americans in the war effort. Previously they were not allowed to enlist.

In World War II Inouye  lost an arm changing machine gun nests in San Terenzo, Italy, earning him a Medal of Honor. During his recovery  in a military hospital he befriended his Sargent, Former Senator Bob Dole, (R, Kansas), who also has a permanent injury. Their friendship obviously spanned many decades, as do special  life-long friendships and bonds between Veterans of War.

Former P.O.W. (Prisoner of War) and Senator John McClain (R, Arizona) stated  that "Inouye's unit was in the most gruesome and difficult blood lettings of the entire conflict". His battalion was the most decorated unit of the war. Senator Inouye was third in line of succession to the US Presidency behind Vice President Biden and House Speaker John Boehner.

The Newlands Resoulution was used to annex the Republic to the United States and it became the Territory of Hawaii in 1898. Later, in March 1959, Congress passed the Hawaii Admission Act. President Eisenhower signed it into law allowing  Hawaii to became the 50th state. The United States' Current President, President Barack Obama (2008-Present;) was born in Hawaii, an issue that has been quite contentious with a movement called "The birthers". The birthers strongly believe that President Obama was born overseas and therefore ineligible for the US Presidency, per Constitution. President Obama produced his Hawaiian Official Birth Certificate before his second term in order to stop the distractions from real issues.  Birthers still believe that he was born in another country.

                                                  Sign At Japanese Internment Camp

On CBS News, the late Senator Inouye described being discriminated and called a "Jap", or mistaken for Chinese. He was constantly insulted to his face, while in uniform, just  like my father was as a Montford Point Marine. Many Japanese-Americans were placed in internment camps during WWII in large numbers. The US apologized for its race based discrimination against Japanese Americans and were given reparations*, four decades later.

Senator Innoye served honorably as an Army Veteran and a Congress.  He was a integral part in the Watergate Hearings of the 1970's and the Iran-Contra Hearings in the 80's. The late Senator was described as " being the one to strengthen our military, forge bipartisan consensus and hold those of us in government to the people we were elected to serve." -President Obama, at his funeral.

Senator Inoye was the embodiment of a true hero, typical of a Medal of Honor Winner. He served bravely in battle and with dignity in Congress. He lived to be eighty-eight years old.

*Nisei:  American born Japanese

**Some Japanese Americans died in the camps due to inadequate medical care and the emotional stresses they encountered.(Source, PBS)

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