HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In a moving memorial at the State Capitol building Thursday, politicians, constituents and family remembered the late Congressman Mark Takai as a man who embodied the aloha spirit and was committed to fighting for the little guy.
"Mark was a true patriot," said U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who presented Takai's family with the flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol the day he died.
Hawaii Army National Guardsmen carried Takai's flag-draped coffin into the open-air rotunda Thursday, while the Congressman's wife and two children followed alongside Gov. David Ige.
Takai, a Democrat, war veteran and longtime National Guardsmen, died July 20 after a nine-month battle with cancer. He was 49 years old.
The service offered a touching tribute for Takai, who worked in the State Capitol for more than two decades as a state legislator.
A tearful state Rep. Sylvia Luke opened the memorial, saying, "I'm going to be a terrible emcee because I might be crying through the entire ceremony, so my apologies."
Takai's family sat in the front row, listening as Takai's former colleagues read passages and shared stories about the hard-working politician.
"Eighteen months he was in Congress -- 18 months -- but he accomplished so much. He was a man in a hurry. He made use of time in a very special way," Pelosi said.
State Senate President Ronald Kouchi said Takai is a model for others.
"In his last battle, he didn't despair but he chose the possibility, worked to the end and faced such adversity with grace and class," he said.
One by one throughout the ceremony, Hawaii dignitaries stopped to pay their respects to Takai's family, fellow troops saluted their fallen brother, and constituents left lei and a caring touch to thank him for his 22 years of public service.
"He just loved to serve, whether in uniform or in a coat in tie in Washington or in an aloha shirt when he got a chance," said General Arthur Logan, state adjutant general.
On Friday, a public memorial service will be held at the First Presbyterian Church of Honolulu at Koolau in Kaneohe. Visitation begins at 9 a.m. followed by the service at 11 a.m. and continued visitation at noon.
The family requests the that anyone attending the Friday service dress in aloha attire as a nod to Takai's tradition of celebrating Aloha Friday.
Parking will be allowed at HPU's Hawaii Loa Campus located at 45-045 Kamehameha Highway. Shuttle service will be provided.