Statements from Administration Officials on the Passing of Senator Daniel K. Inouye

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Statements from Administration Officials on the Passing of Senator Daniel K. Inouye


On December 17, 2012, in the words of President Obama, “our country has lost a true American hero with the passing of Senator Inouye”. Read the President’s entire statement here and the Presidential Proclamation, which directs that the flag of the United States be flown at half-staff at the White House and other public buildings and grounds until sunset on the day of his interment, here.


Below are excerpts from the statements issued by Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn, and the Chair of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Daphne Kwok.


Statement by Vice President Biden

“As my mother would say, the greatest virtue of all is courage, and Danny was courage personified. From the battlefields of World War II where he received the Medal of Honor, to the floor of the United States Senate where he displayed incredible moral bravery, he was always the same – courageous and resolute.  He was one of the most honorable men I ever met in my life, and one of the best friends you could hope for. He was honest, and fiercely loyal, and I trusted him absolutely.”

“Everyone in the Senate not only admired Danny Inouye, but they trusted him. We all knew he would do the moral thing regardless of the consequences – whether it was passing judgment on a President during Watergate or on another President in the Iran Contra hearings.  And Danny always remembered where he came from – and how hard his family had to struggle. From having to fight for the right to fight for his country in the all Japanese-American 442nd, to his keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention in 1968, he always spoke of the country’s struggles with racism and bias, and his call for a “new era of politics.” And to his dying day, he fought for a new era of politics where all men and women are treated with equality.”

Read Vice President Biden’s full statement here.

Statement by Chair Daphne Kwok

“On behalf of the President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, we extend our deepest sympathies and prayers to the family of Senator Daniel K. Inouye.”

“Senator Inouye has been an inspiration for the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.  From his service in the legendary 442nd Regimental Combat Team and his unparalleled heroism demonstrated in a battle that earned him the Medal of Honor, the highest military honor, to 50 years of leadership and exemplary service in the Senate as the highest-ranking AAPI politician, Senator Inouye demonstrated to all of us that anything is achievable in the United States of America.”

Read Chair Kwok’s full statement here.

Statement by Secretary Clinton

“I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my friend, Danny Inouye.  From his earliest days in public service to his last, he inspired others to reach for the American dream – because that’s exactly what he did.”


“No matter what barrier was in his way, Danny shattered it.  He was the highest-ranking Asian-American politician in history and the first Japanese-American to serve in the House of Representatives and Senate.  He was a soldier, a Medal of Honor recipient and a hero.  But despite the accolades from a lifetime of service, he never lost his humility and compassion.”


Read Secretary Clinton’s full statement here.

Statement by Secretary Panetta

“The men and women of the Department of Defense have lost one of their most dedicated advocates, and I have lost a dear friend, with the passing of Sen. Daniel Inouye.  His life of service to the people of Hawaii and to this nation embodied the essence of the American dream, and the heroism of the greatest generation.” 

“A World War II veteran of the legendary 442nd Regimental Combat Team, his display of leadership and valor in a gun battle that cost him his arm rightfully earned him the Medal of Honor.  His determination to recover and his extraordinary career that followed continue to inspire wounded warriors today.” 

Read Secretary Panetta’s full statement here.

Statement by Secretary Salazar

“From statehood until today, Senator Inouye has represented the people of Hawaii with courage and conviction.  We have lost a true American hero this evening, but Danny’s legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of those he touched over his eight decades of service to the nation he loved and cherished.”  

Read Secretary Salazar’s full statement here.

Statement by Secretary Sebelius

“I am deeply saddened by the news of Senator Daniel Inouye’s passing. Senator Inouye was a trailblazer in public service and a staunch champion for the mission of the Department of Health and Human Services. He was a strong advocate for advancing the health and well-being of the American people – from promoting biomedical research to addressing issues affecting veterans, Native Hawaiians, and American Indians and Alaska Natives.”

Read Secretary Sebelius’ full statement here.

Statement by Secretary Duncan

“Senator Inouye understood that education is an investment, not an expense, and he consistently stood up for the students of Hawaii and our nation. After heroically serving in World War II, he completed college and law school with help from the G.I. Bill, leading to a lifetime of public service and a commitment to bipartisanship that I deeply respected.”

Read Secretary Duncan’s full statement here.

Statement by Secretary Shinseki

“Senator Daniel K. Inouye stood among the 'greatest' of our 'Greatest Generation.'  Recipient of the Medal of Honor, our Nation's highest award for valor; distinguished service as a long-serving member of the U.S. Senate; and role model to generations of Americans of Asian-Pacific Islander heritage, especially those growing up in his beloved Hawai'i, Senator Inouye made public service a noble and honorable calling.” 

Read Secretary Shinseki’s full statement here.

Statement by Assistant Secretary Washburn

“Senator Inouye was a remarkable man who served his country at a time of its greatest peril during World War II and later as a distinguished member of Congress. His endurance of racial prejudice made him a champion of human rights and dignity – a hallmark of his chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.”

Read Assistant Secretary Washburn’s full statement here.