Obama to present Medal of Freedom to Inouye on Wednesday

The family of the late Senator Daniel K. Inouye will receive our nation's highest civilian honor, on his behalf this week, and Hawaii News Now will be live at the White House when President Obama honors the American patriot.

Sen. Inouye's motivation in Congress was delivering for the people of Hawaii and being a role model for what was possible in the United States.

"Always front and center in his mind was, 'How am I able to serve people in Hawaii,'" said Ken Inouye, the late Senator's son. "I would theorize that just being able to achieve some of the American dream, just being able to achieve some of that American dream in totality, to him, he would see as an accomplishment."

Inouye's service during World War II changed his course in lifeā€”and in history. He lost an arm in battle, ending his dreams of becoming a surgeon, but he found a new purpose in politics as a result of the injury.

"I think for Dan, he would always say that having been declared an enemy alien following the outbreak of WWII, being able to rise to the President Pro Tempore of Senate is something that could only happen in America," said Irene Inouye, his widow. "Every day, he was proud to be an American, proud to be able to serve the country."

His greatest triumph came in 2000, when he received the Congressional Medal of Honor with his 442nd compatriots. His beloved wife Maggie was beside him for the Medal of Honor presentation, before she died in 2006.

"There was a reception for him at the Senate after he received the Medal of Honor," said Ken Inouye. "When he spoke, he had to pause several times to collect himself. That, and when my mother died."

On Wednesday, Irene and Ken will accept the Medal of Freedom from President Obama on his behalf.

"I imagine the Medal of Freedom would mean a lot to him," said Ken. "It's a high honor. Again, going back to this whole overarching theme that America is a great country. Nowhere else [was my father's life] possible."

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