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U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye given a rare honor

HONOLULU — The body of U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol, an honor requiring approval from both chambers of Congress and bestowed previously to only 31 Americans.

Inouye, who died Monday of breathing complications, will lie in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Thursday, his office said, marking the start of four days of memorial services in Washington, D.C., and Hawaii to give the public a chance to bid a final aloha to an "American hero" and icon of island politics.

"It's a rare honor, and it really shows that he just wasn't great in Hawaii, but that he is respected throughout the United States," said John Hart, chairman of the Department of Communication at Hawaii Pacific University.

Inouye, the decorated World War II veteran who lost his right arm in combat and went on to serve Hawaii for more than five decades in public office, was 88 years old.

The arrival of his casket at the rotunda is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday, with a ceremony and visitation from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Peter Boylan, Inouye's spokesman, said in an email. Services are scheduled at the National Cathedral at 10:30 a.m. Friday.

On Saturday, Inouye will lie in state at the state Capitol at a time to be determined, Gov. Neil Abercrombie's spokeswoman Louise Kim McCoy said.

A final memorial service is scheduled for 10 a.m. Sunday at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl.

Details, including whether the service would be open to the public, were not immediately available.

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Gene Castagnetti, director of the cemetery, said Tuesday he had not spoken to anyone official about plans for a service at Punchbowl.

"I am waiting for guidance from the senator's office," Castagnetti said, adding that while Margaret Inouye, the senator's first wife, is buried there, it's up to Inouye's surviving family members to make a final determination on where his remains will be placed.

Earlier Tuesday, Inouye's colleagues in the U.S. Senate held a moment of silence for him at the beginning of their session. Members said their final words of praise and goodbye before adopting a resolution in Inouye's honor and adjourning for the day.

Inouye's desk was draped in black cloth with a vase of white roses on top as is Senate tradition when a member dies in office. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said a lei is being flown from Hawaii and will replace the roses when it arrives.

"I can't tell you how much it pains me," Democratic U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont said before being sworn in to succeed Inouye as president pro tempore of the Senate. "He was one of the greatest members of this body ever to have served, and a dear friend to so many of us."

Abercrombie ordered Hawaii flags at state offices, agencies and the Hawaii National Guard to be flown at half-staff until sunset on the day of Inouye's burial. President Barack Obama, who on Monday called Inouye an "American hero," issued the same order for the federal government earlier in the day.

Inouye, the second-longest-serving senator in U.S. history, joins a select group of individuals to have the honor of lying in state in the Capitol Rotunda. The list includes presidents from Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy to, most recently, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford, along with vice presidents, senators, representatives, military brass and unknown soldiers from U.S. wars.

According to the Senate Historical Office, since 1865 most services have used the platform, known as a catafalque, constructed for Lincoln's coffin. Inouye would become the 12th person to have served in the U.S. Senate to lie in state.

"I think you're seeing something that not only speaks to Sen. Inouye, but also, I think, speaks for some larger things," Hart said. "It speaks to the roles of Japanese-Americans in society. It speaks to the passing of a generation. It speaks to honoring World War II heroes.

"I think it's really something bigger than him."

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Star-Advertiser reporter Gordon Y.K. Pang and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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