In 1947, Inouye was honorably discharged as a captain in the U.S. Army. He then finished his studies at the University of Hawaii in 1950, ultimately graduating from law school in 1952.
And although his military service had concluded, his service to country had not.
Following his service in the military, Inouye practiced prosecuting law in Honolulu. Although Hawaii was still a territory, he was elected to the Territorial House of Representatives in 1952 and the Territorial Senate in 1956. When Hawaii became a state in 1959, he served as the state’s first congressional representative, making him the first Japanese-American in Congress. In 1962, Inouye was elected to the 86th Congress and proceeded to spend the next four decades serving as a senator from Hawaii, where he also obtained the distinction of being the second-longest serving senator in the history of the United States. His time as a senator was marked by supporting the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, and Hawaii’s interests in Washington. He played an important role in the Watergate Scandal investigation in 1973 and the Iran-Contra affair in 1987. Inouye’s legacy is well known throughout Hawaii, heralded as a man of the people. Recently, the Honolulu International Airport was renamed the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. The NOAA Daniel K. Inouye Regional Center on Ford Island is also named in his honor. The University of Hawaii’s College of Social Sciences is developing the “Daniel K. Inouye Initiative for Democratic Leadership” program, as well.
Fifty-five years after the battle to take Colle Musatello Ridge, Inouye was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions alongside 21 other Asian-American veterans on June 21, 2000.
In 2012, Inouye passed away, leaving behind a wife and one son.
Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated “Americanism is not and has never been a matter of race or color. Americanism is a matter of mind and heart.” Inouye embodied true Americanism, dedicating his lifetime to committed service to the American people. From enlisting in the U.S. Army in spite of intense discrimination, to serving in the U.S. Senate for almost 40 years, Inouye’s legacy is unparalleled.
His legacy will continue on in the crew of USS Daniel K Inouye (DDG 118); no longer limited to the buildings in Hawaii, it will stretch across many oceans, representing our nation’s interests– just as he did 75 years ago.