Department of Defense Appropriations Act

Floor Speech

By:  Debbie Stabenow
Date: Dec. 18, 2012
Location: Washington, DC


Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, I rise today, as so many colleagues have done throughout the day, to pay tribute to a tremendous colleague whom we lost yesterday, a friend to all of us, someone from whom we have all learned a tremendous amount, on both sides of the aisle, about how to work together, Daniel Inouye of Hawaii. He was an outstanding Senator, a cherished colleague, and a dear friend.

We all know he dedicated his life to serving our country, first as a soldier in World War II where he put his life on the line for our freedoms, for our country, and then as a Member of Congress for 53 years. Senator Inouye was Hawaii's first Congressman. Think about that, the first Congressman. Today marks the first day in the history of our country that the State of Hawaii has not been represented in Congress by Danny Inouye.

He also had a special connection to my home State of Michigan, and Senator Levin and I have both been very proud of that fact. He was a patient at a hospital in Battle Creek during World War II where he met Philip Hart and Bob Dole. Can you imagine those three great men coming together serving our country, wounded, doing rehabilitation at a hospital together in Michigan and all going on to be involved in public service as Senators?

That building is still standing. It is no longer a hospital; it is another Federal building. It is our great honor in Michigan to have that building named the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center, honoring all three of these outstanding leaders.

Senator Inouye was a great mentor for me as well as so many of us in the Senate. Coming to the Senate, he always encouraged me during the elections. He always told me to hang in there, that things would go well and it would be great. He was always a person with a smile on his face, encouraging each and every one of us. He was there encouraging me when we were fighting for our economic lives in Michigan with the automobile industry, saying it was going to be OK, that we would be able to get through it, and that things would be better on the other side. He was right, with the help of so many people here and the President.

He also has consistently said to me: I want to help your city of Detroit. I want to make sure I do everything I can to support that great city. He has been a wonderful friend and supporter on that front as well.

He also received a distinguished honor given by the Arab-American community in Michigan after he helped us establish the first National Arab American Museum. After 9/11 when there were stories of young Arab-American children and girls who were being harassed or attacked while wearing their traditional garb in school, he called up leaders in Michigan to tell them they had his support as a Japanese American, knowing what he had gone through in a very difficult time in our country's history. He showed incredible support to a great part of our Michigan community.

He is beloved by so many around Michigan, but no more than those who are in the Arab-American community who are business leaders, community leaders, who found themselves, just because of their heritage, in very difficult circumstances. He has shown great support to them and was a great role model to them. I was proud to be a part of honoring him a few years ago in Michigan with the highest award coming from that community.

He touched lives everywhere he went. He served with quiet dignity. He had a strong, firm conscience. He has set an example for each one of us. He was a true patriot and a true American hero in every sense of the word. The Senate and the American people will miss him greatly. My thoughts and prayers are with his family this evening.


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