Congress says a final “aloha” Thursday to a revered colleague and war hero, as Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye lies in state in the Capitol Rotunda.
Inouye, the Senate’s second-longest serving member and a Medal of Honor recipient for his bravery during World War II, died Monday. The Democrat was 88 and approaching his 50th year in the Senate.
As Vice President Biden, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner said during a somber ceremony, the honor of being only the 31st dignitary to lie in state under the Capitol dome would have been humbling to a man lauded for his quiet grace and dignity.
“Dan Inouye was an institution and he deserves to spend at least another day in this beautiful building in which he dedicated his life to represent the 50th state from the first day Hawaii was admitted into the union,” Reid said.
The public will be able to pay its respects and file past Inouye’s flag-draped casket until 8 p.m. ET Thursday. A memorial service will be held Friday morning at the National Cathedral in Washington. A final service will be held Sunday in Hawaii before Inouye is laid to rest at the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.
Inouye was a member of the Army’s 442nd Regimental Combat Team, made up of Japanese Americans who were considered “enemy aliens” after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. They petitioned the government to serve in the military.
Inouye’s right arm was severed in a battle in Italy and later amputated. Biden recounted how used his left arm to pry free a live grenade from the severed limb, and then charged a machine gun’s nest to protect his own troops.
Noting the injustices suffered by Japanese Americans, Biden hailed his friend for demonstrating “physical and moral courage” — in war, in Congress and throughout life.
“I never met a man with as much loyalty to his country, to his family, and to his friends,” Biden said about Inouye. “For all Danny had come through … from the sting of prejudice to his physical injuries … he would have been forgiven if he had an edge to him, if there was a touch of cynicism. There was none.”
The Capitol Rotunda has been used 30 times since the 1800s as the place where the public can pay its respects to some of the nation’s highest government officials and war heroes. Thousands of mourners said goodbye to Presidents Gerald Ford in 2007 and Ronald Reagan in 2004 at the Capitol. Rosa Parks, the civil rights pioneer, was the first woman to lie in state at the Capitol in 2005.
Ford, a one-time member of the U.S. House, in 2007 was the last person to lie in state in the Capitol.