Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Senator Inouye - Passing of an American Hero

by Bill Doughty

When Senator Daniel K. Inouye was a young man going to war in 1943 to fight in Europe his father told him, “...if you must die, die with honor.”  After a lifetime of honorable service, Medal of Honor recipient Inouye passed away Dec. 17, 2012.

A statement from his office conveyed the loss.  President Obama issued a statement, calling Inouye “a true American hero” who  “worked to strengthen our military, forge bipartisan consensus, and hold those of us in government accountable to the people we were elected to serve.”

A Navy Reads post, “Honor by Fire,” describes the commitment and sacrifice of Inouye and his compatriots and the saga of Americans of Japanese Ancestry in World War II in a review of "Honor by Fire" by Lyn Crost.

Ten days prior to his death Sen. Inouye, an eyewitness of the attack on Pearl Harbor, reflected on the “magnitude and cost of the war.”

Statement by Senator Daniel K. Inouye, Dec. 7, 2012:
“In 1941, the date December 7th was a day that evoked anger, fierce patriotism and dangerous racism. Soon after that day, I suddenly found myself, pursuant to a decision by the government and along with thousands of Japanese Americans declared 4C, enemy aliens. It was a difficult time. I was 17.”
“I joined many of my classmates and sent petitions to the government, pleading for the opportunity to fight. We wanted to affirm our loyalty and pride of citizenship. The request was granted in the final days of 1942.”
“The government decided to form a combat team made up of young Americans of Japanese Ancestry (AJA), the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. In Hawaii, they asked for 1,500 volunteers. About 10,000 signed up, more than 85 percent of the eligible Japanese American males in Hawaii.”
“The day I rushed down to the draft board to volunteer, I was a freshmen in college. I was a pre-medicine major. There were 36 AJA’s in my class, 34 volunteered, and all were wounded or killed. As a result, after the war, there were very few AJA doctors in Hawaii.”
Inouye, front left, and AJA buddies.
“During one of our first fights, my best friend, Jin Hatsu Chinen, was killed in an artillery barrage. We were to open a clinic in Honolulu together after the war. He was teaching me to play the guitar. His death, reminded me, reminded all of us, of the magnitude and cost of the war we were fighting.”
“The 442nd went on to become the most decorated unit of its size in the history of the United States Army, but we suffered horrific losses and those of us lucky to survive the fight swore we would live life for our brothers who did not come home. I shall always be grateful to President Roosevelt for giving us the opportunity to demonstrate our love of country.”
“On this day, let us remember all those who have had the courage to put on the uniform and sacrifice for our great nation. Our way of life has always, and will always be, protected and preserved by volunteers willing to give their lives for what we believe in. I thank each of you for your service to the nation, I thank you for your many sacrifices, and I thank you for being an American patriot.”

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