The legendary Daniel Inuoye

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Rachel mentioned this on the show last night, but I’d be remiss if I neglected to write an item on the passing of Sen. Daniel Inouye (D) of Hawaii, who died yesterday at the age of 88.

Despite his extraordinary career and rank as the Senate’s president pro tempore, Inouye probably isn’t a household name, and that’s a genuine shame because he’s the kind of American hero who doesn’t come along often. Rachel noted that the senator lived a life “that reads like fiction and that earned him legendary status.” Here’s a portion of a Ken Burns documentary in which Inouye spoke about joining the U.S. military during World War II.

The details of Inouye’s decorated combat service are truly extraordinary. In 1945, in a firefight against Nazi soldiers, he was shot in the stomach, but continued to lead his platoon. On the same mission, when preparing to throw a grenade, his right arm was shot and shattered, so Inouye used his left arm to grab the grenade from his lifeless hand, throw it at the enemy, and take out a Nazi machine gun nest.

Seriously.

He then returned home, got a law degree, became the first Japanese American elected to Congress, and died after one the longest Senate careers in American history.

It’s also important to appreciate what kind of senator Inuoye was.

We didn’t see him preening for the cameras or demanding to be on the Sunday shows every other week; we didn’t see him grandstanding or seeking celebrity status, though he deserved it. In a town full of show horses, Daniel Inuoye was a work horse, and he will be sorely missed.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) will choose a successor who will serve until 2014. Inouye made clear he hoped Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D) would take his place in the Senate.

Hawaii

The legendary Daniel Inuoye

Updated