- Associated Press - Sunday, December 23, 2012

HONOLULU — The late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye was remembered Sunday as an American hero whose legacy as a war veteran and senator would be felt across Hawaii for years to come.

The memorial service at Honolulu’s National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific was attended by about 1,000 people, including President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Hawaii’s congressional delegation and a number of other senators, Cabinet secretaries and other dignitaries.

Daniel was the best senator among us all,” Mr. Reid told those assembled, adding later: “Whenever we needed a noble man to lean on, we turned to Sen. Dan Inouye. He was fearless.”

The cemetery, a strikingly beautiful site in an extinct volcano, is the final resting place to thousands of World War II veterans. More than 400 members of the storied Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team — of which Mr. Inouye was a part — are buried at the site.

Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, commander of the Navy’s U.S. Pacific Command, said this also will be Mr. Inouye’s final resting place.

“We have lost an irreplaceable American,” he said.

Several 442nd veterans attended the Sunday morning service, the latest in a number of tributes and honors for Mr. Inouye following the 88-year-old’s death Dec. 17 from respiratory complications at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda.

Buses that brought people to the service flashed the words “MAHALO Senator Daniel K. Inouye” — using the Hawaiian word for thank you.

A 19-gun cannon salute was fired as Mr. Inouye’s coffin arrived at the cemetery. The service also featured a flyover by F-22 military jets and the playing of taps by Sen. Jon Tester, Montana Democrat.

Mr. Inouye’s widow, Irene, who was seated with the president and first lady Michelle Obama, dabbed her eyes as a band of bagpipes and drums band played “Danny Boy.”

Mr. Inouye was the first Japanese-American elected to both houses of Congress and the second-longest serving senator in U.S. history, at 50 years.

He was a high school senior in Honolulu on Dec. 7, 1941, when he watched dozens of Japanese planes fly toward Pearl Harbor and other Oahu military bases to begin a bombing that changed the course of world events.

He volunteered for a special Army unit of Japanese-Americans and lost his right arm in a battle with Germans in Italy. He was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross for bravery. The medal was upgraded to the Medal of Honor by President Clinton. His injuries scratched his dream of becoming a surgeon and he went to law school and into politics instead.

“He was a shining star of the greatest generation,” fellow Hawaii Democratic Sen. Daniel K. Akaka said at the service.

Mr. Akaka, who served with Mr. Inouye for 36 years, also highlighted Mr. Inouye’s role in steering federal money to build roads, schools, housing and other infrastructure in Hawaii over the decades, from the beginning of statehood.

Dan Inouye is Hawaii, and Hawaii is Dan Inouye,” Mr. Akaka said.

Mr. Inouye’s chief of staff, Jennifer Sabas, said Mr. Inouye was calm, in control and giving out instructions until the end. Then, “he penned ‘aloha,’ and went on to a better place,” she said.

“Aloha, boss,” she said in closing, as she stood beside his flag-draped coffin.

Mr. Inouye lay in state at both the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Thursday and the Hawaii state Capitol on Saturday. A public service is planned for Friday on Kauai. His burial is expected to be a private, family event.

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