Exclusive: Senator Inouye's private side

Exclusive: Senator Inouye's private side

President Obama will present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Senator Daniel Inouye tomorrow for his dedication serving Hawaii in Congress for 5 decades.

Hawaii News Now got an exclusive and intimate glimpse of the Senator's life away from Washington, at his condominium in Bethesda, Maryland. His widow Irene invited Tannya Joaquin to their condo where he left work behind, with a few exceptions.

It wasn't always that way. When Inouye was first elected, he told Hawaii News Now in an interview just months before his death, "First year, lived close by to the business. In fact, first place was across street from the House. Worked till 6, freshened up, then went back."

Dan Inouye learned quickly that he needed a life away from the Beltway and away from the political posturing that comes with the territory on Capitol Hill. In his words, "Now when I leave here, I leave here. My desk is clear, my work is finished for that moment and I try not to think about it."

His widow Irene adds, "Everyday when he finished work, his desk had to be completely cleared.There could not be anything left. If there was a letter than had to get written, it would get finished. That's really remarkable for somebody with so many demands on him."

The Senator's son Ken explains how he would get around that like this, "There's no way you're going to clear off all that work off desk by 5:30 or 6 or whatever so he'd come home with one, maybe 2 big bags. The stack would be high and he would just go through it from end of dinner till about 11."

The Inouye's condo was his sanctuary away from the Senate, where talk about work was forbidden, but there are lasting signs of his service.

Irene pointed out a special framed certificate, saying "This was the certificate when he was first sworn in to the Senate in 1963. Exactly 50 years and now the Medal of Freedom. Yes, 50th anniversary of Presidential Medal of Freedom so it's kind of a bittersweet moment."

Tannya Joaquin is the only Hawaii news reporter in Washington D.C. to cover this historic honor. Look for more of her exclusive reports on Hawaii News Now and HawaiiNewsNow.com. Sunrise will broadcast the Presidential Medal of Freedom Ceremony live when it happens around 6 AM Hawaii time Wednesday morning.

You can read up about all 16 Medal Honorees including President Bill Clinton and Oprah by clicking on our Medal of Freedom slideshow.

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