WASHINGTON – Sen. Daniel Inouye, the second-longest serving senator in U.S. history, was remembered Thursday as a man who gallantly defended his country on the battlefield and gracefully sought to better it during the 50-plus years he represented his beloved state of Hawaii.
Colleagues and aides lined the Capitol rotunda five deep to say farewell. The rare ceremony demonstrated the respect and good will he generated over the years. Only 31 people have lain in the Capitol rotunda; the last was former President Gerald R. Ford nearly six years ago. The last senator who died in office and was accorded the honor was Democrat Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, in 1978.
Inouyes closed casket was draped with the American flag during the morning ceremony. His family and staff looked on as Reid, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Vice President Joe Biden paid tribute to a man whom Biden said made him proud to be called a senator.
Biden said each person who has lain in state in the Capitol had a quality that was uniquely American. For Inouye, it was a moral compass that allowed him to do extraordinary things as a solider and as a senator.
Ive never met a man or woman in that period with as much physical and moral courage as Daniel Inouye, Biden said, referring to his years in the Senate.
Inouyes body will be escorted today to the Washington National Cathedral and will be returned to Hawaii on Saturday.