He grew up planning to become a doctor until 1942, when as a teenager barely out of high school, he joined what would become a revered Army regiment of Japanese Americans.
On an Italian battlefield two years later, he destroyed three enemy machine gun nests even as bullets tore through his stomach and legs. A grenade nearly ripped off his right arm, and it was later amputated in an Army hospital.
Back in the United States, the young lieutenant was wearing his empty right sleeve pinned to his officer’s uniform when he stepped into a San Francisco barbershop for a haircut. “We don’t serve Japs here,” the barber told him.
Memories of such encounters remained vivid to Sen. Inouye, who in his political career spoke eloquently in support of civil rights and social welfare programs.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Daniel Inouye died yesterday after 50 years in the United States Senate. Never exactly the most loquacious politician he was well-regarded and powerful within the Senate. But no story will ever demonstrate why Inouye was a Democrat and a voice for Civil Rights more than this: