Most people best remember Daniel K. Inouye as the U.S. Senator for Hawaii, a position he held for 49 years.
But to Dearborn resident Daniel Kushnir, he will always be remembered as a compassionate American soldier.
Kushnir recalls the Army hospital in northern Italy where he served during World War II “as if it were yesterday.” That’s where a wounded Inouye came in during 1945—his arm badly broken.
“When I looked at his dog tags,” Kushnir recalls, “I said ‘Daniel K—that’s my name.’”
Kushnir, a surgical technician, also remembered Inouye’s selflessness.
“He was worried more about the rest of his troop than he was about himself,” Kushnir shares. “He didn’t talk much about himself.”
Inouye, the longest-serving member of the U.S. Senate, passed away Monday from respiratory complications. He was 88.
Inouye enlisted at age 17, and lost part of his right arm in that injury, which Kushnir helped him through.
According to NBC, the Hawaii native served as the first congressman when it became a state in 1959. He was also the first Japanese-American to serve in Congress.
Kushnir reunited with the senator in 1973 for a brief meeting, and always admired the man’s work.
“He was very compassionate,” Kushnir says.
Inouye had other ties to Dearborn, too.
Dearborn nonprofit ACCESS shares that leading up to the May 2005 opening of the AANM and thereafter, both Sen. Inouye and his wife, Irene Hirano, provided support and assistance to the AANM, mentoring its leadership, especially founding director Dr. Anan Ameri.
“We grieve alongside our dear friend and colleague Irene in the loss of her husband, yet we stand in awe and reflect with wonder at the arc of his life and the many ways he helped tp make our country great,” Dr. Ameri said in a statement.
“Sen. Inouye was not only a champion of the United States and a defender of democracy, he was an ardent believer in our diverse citizenry, in the intrinsic value of the many cultures and ethnicities that comprise America,” added ACCESS Executive Director Hassan Jaber. “It is nothing short of inspiring that a Japanese American World War II veteran became a decorated serviceman and exemplary public servant, the longest-serving U.S. senator in our nation’s history. We will continue our work in his honor.”
Earlier this year, Inouye and Hirano, who is president of the U.S.-Japan Council, took a tour of the museum’s Patriots & Peacemakers: Arab Americans in Service to Our Country exhibit, which documents the service of Arab Americans in the U.S. Armed Forces, the Peace Corps and the diplomatic corps.
According to the Washington Post, a funeral for Inouye will take place Friday at 10:30 a.m. at the National Cathedral in Washington. A Sunday memorial service is also planned to take place at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii.