Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid offered a eulogy for the late Senator Daniel K. Inouye Friday at the Washington National Cathedral. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
As the tragic events of recent days remind us, often when death visits, it comes too soon.
A plane crash takes a parent from us.
Cancer deprives us of a sibling or a friend.
An automobile accident steals away a child.
Lives are cut short. Dreams are denied.
Often death is troubling. We ask, “Why?”
Why him? Why her? Why now?
And although I wish I could answer those questions with authority, often the “why” of death is a mystery.
But in the case of Senator Daniel Inouye, there is no mystery. And although there is sadness, there is no regret.
Ecclesiastes 3:2 tells us, “To everything there is a season, a time to every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die.”
It was Daniel Inouye’s time.
Dan Inouye lived a full and productive life.
He was 88 years old when he died. And he lived each of those 88 years to its fullest.
He was a war hero – a decorated soldier / who left the innocence of youth / and most of his right arm / on an Italian battlefield / where he defended our nation’s freedom / even as that nation questioned the loyalty / of patriots who looked like him.
He was a healing hero – an example of the resilience / of the human body / and the human spirit, whose resolve / to live a life of service / was hardened – and not broken – by 20 months spent recovering from his wounds / in an Army hospital in Michigan.
He was a legislative hero – a progressive Democrat / who would never hesitate to collaborate with a Republican colleague for the good of this country.
In 1968 – when the country was riven by racism and divided by war – he calmed the nation’s nerves with an eloquent keynote address before the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
Daniel Inouye advocated for the rights of all Americans – regardless of the color of their skin or where their parents were born or what their religion was.
He was the first chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
He served with distinction as Chairman of the Commerce and Appropriations committees.
During his time as chairman of Indian Affairs he turned a formerly neglected committee into a powerful voice for Native populations in Hawaii and across this country.
And remarkably, Dan served for more than 34 years with his best friend, the late Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.
Their friendship, as well as their working relationship, stands as an example of the remarkable things that two Senators can accomplish when they set political party aside.
Together, they were a formidable force / in support of this nation’s fighting men and women, working to ensure our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and guardsmen / are the best trained / and the best equipped / in times of peace / and times of war.
Senator Inouye also served as a member of the Watergate Committee, and as chairman of the special committee investigating the Iran Contra Affair.
Whenever there was a difficult job to do – whenever we needed a noble man / to lean on – we turned to Dan Inouye.
So it should come as no surprise that Dan died as he lived – with great dignity.
Fifteen minutes before he passed, he shook the hands of friends and family who surrounded him.
He thanked the doctors and nurses for their care and attention.
He thanked his security detail for their careful protection over the years.
He wrote notes detailing his last wishes, working until mere moments before his death.
He told his wife Irene that he would appreciate my speaking before you today, a gesture that touches my heart more than words can express.
Then he said “Aloha,” and he quietly joined the Lord.
He had faced death many times, especially during the war.
He would often tell us that he had been lucky many times.
But I don’t believe that Dan was lucky. He was blessed.
He had work to do here among us. And he stayed until that work was done.
As Ecclesiastes says, there is “a time to every purpose,” and this was Dan’s time.
The 24th Psalm asks, “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart.”
That is Daniel Inouye – pure of heart, clean of hand.
During his 1968 convention speech, Dan taught the nation that aloha doesn’t just mean hello, and it doesn’t just mean goodbye. It also means I love you.
Aloha was Dan’s last word.
So I say to my friend in return: Daniel Ken Inouye, aloha. I love you. And goodbye until we meet again.