'An amazing life': Hundreds gather to say aloha to the late Sen. Dan Akaka

Hundreds of mourners pay respects to late Sen. Daniel Akaka
Published: May. 17, 2018 at 1:39 AM HST|Updated: May. 19, 2018 at 4:49 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A fitting tribute for a pioneer in Hawaii politics took place in Honolulu Saturday.

On Saturday, hundreds of family and friends gathered to honor and remember the life of the late Sen. Daniel Akaka.

His casket departed the state capitol building for a public celebration of life at Kawaiahao Church.

The late senator's casket was accompanied by several uniformed officers as it was brought to the church.

The service lasted over two hours and featured friends, dignitaries, and family sharing fond memories of Akaka's life as an elected official and family man.

His humble personality earned him a nickname: The "ambassador of aloha."

"Dad was so happy and honored to have done what he did in his lifetime and he had such an amazing life," son Danny Akaka, Jr. said. "For us, he's still very much alive to us in our heart and soul and we know his spirit is always with us."

Akaka, who died April 6 at the age of 93, was the first Native Hawaiian to serve in the U.S. Senate and a fixture for decades on Capitol Hill.

Shortly after his death, son Gerard Akaka told Hawaii News Now his father "was wired" to see the best in others and to offer kindness, caring — and hugs — everywhere he went. His warm demeanor was despite a series of tough tests early in life, including suffering from what he later realized was post-traumatic stress disorder after getting back from World War II.

"He wasn't fancy. He was humble and, yes, the word is aloha. He would say time and time again, Hawaii has something to share with the world and it's aloha. He embodied it," Gerard Akaka said.

Former Governor George Ariyoshi delivered the eulogy and spoke of how he encouraged Senator Akaka to run for Congress back in 1976.

'There were many people in the organization who felt he was not the right person. But he got elected, and he went on to become a truly outstanding national leader because he knew what he wanted to do. He knew Hawaii. He knew its people. And that's what he worked for," said Ariyoshi.

Senator Akaka and Aunty Millie's five children thanked everyone for their support since his passing last month.

"Dad was an inspiration to me and my brothers, and to begin this sad journey for us was a hard ship," said Millannie Akaka Mattson, Sen. Akaka's daughter.

"We want to thank God for providing us the best parents and we look forward to continuing their legacies. As dad would always say, we never say 'goodbye,' but 'a hui hou.' A hui hou, Dad," said Danny Akaka, Jr.

A private burial at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl is slated for Monday.

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