The son of a Japanese immigrant and a native Hawaiian is about to become the highest-ranking Asian-American in U.S. history. The 85-year-old Democrat from Hawaii will become the president pro tempore of the Senate, replacing Sen. Robert Byrd, who died early Monday after serving nearly 52 years in the Senate.
Politico reports that the position puts Inouye, now also the most senior member of the Senate, in the presidential line of succession behind Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California.
On June 11, Inouye became the second longest-serving senator in U.S. history – 47 years – beating the record held by the late Sen. Strom Thurmond. When he surpassed Thurmond’s record, the highly decorated World War II veteran was honored on the Senate floor by his peers.
“This is a very special day for me and my family and friends who helped make it possible. When I took the oath of office in 1963, I pledged to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. I spend every day trying to live up to that oath,” Inouye said.
History in the making!