By Bert Eljera
LAS VEGAS – In a funeral fit for a hero, Sen. Daniel K. Inouye was buried Sunday, Dec. 23, at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama attended the ceremony, with about 1,000 other colleagues, friends and constituents of the late senator, who died Monday from respiratory complications.
Sen. Daniel Akaka, the other Hawaiian U.S. senator who has been Inouye’s legislative colleague for the past 36 years, spoke at the funeral service, as well as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
The Associated Press reported that a public affairs specialist of the cemetery said a private burial followed the memorial service.
Inouye, who has been credited for legislation that allowed thousands of Filipino World War II veterans to gain recognition and compensation, was a member of the famed 442nd Combat Team, a highly decorated unit in the Second World War.
He was awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery in combat and lost an arm in one of the battles he was involved in Italy.
On Saturday night, Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie told hundreds of people at a public viewing at the Capitol that Inouye went from being considered undesirable as a Japanese-American at the start of World War II to gaining the respect of the country’s leaders in Washington.
“Rest easy, you are at home with us in paradise,” Abercrombie said.
The Associated Press reported that Inouye’s closed casket, covered with an American flag, was escorted in by seven pallbearers along a red carpet to the center of the Capitol courtyard.
After the ceremony, it was placed in a large tent with the U.S. and Hawaii flags behind it, as people lined up outside to pay their respect, starting with Inouye’s wife, Irene Hirano Inouye.
Earlier in the week, Inouye’s casket was displayed at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C., only the 32nd person to be accorded such honor.
It was followed by a memorial service at the National Cathedral, where President Obama and former president Bill Clinton, among others, eulogized him as a great soldier and statesman.
Obama was in Hawaii for his annual vacation and one of his first acts was to attend Inouye’s burial.
In his eulogy at the National Cathedral, Obama said Inouye was one of his earliest political inspirations.
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