WASHINGTON – On Oct. 25, U.S. Sens. Mazie K. Hirono and Brian Schatz (both D-Hawaii), along with Reps. Ed Case and Jill Tokuda (both D-Hawaii), unveiled a portrait of the late U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye.
The unveiling ceremony was held at the U.S. Capitol and the Hawaii congressional delegation was joined by members of Inouye’s family, including his son Ken and daughter-in-law Jessica, as well as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Inouye’s portrait, painted by Maui-based artist Kirk Kurokawa, will be displayed just off the Senate floor in the Capitol. It is the first portrait of a person of color in the Senate’s leadership portrait series.
“Sen. Inouye and I worked together for decades and I was glad to honor his memory and celebrate his life today,” said Hirono. “His legacy lives on in Hawaii and here in the Senate, and this portrait will serve as an important reminder of his work for years to come.”
“Sen. Daniel K. Inouye was an extraordinary public servant for Hawai‘i and America and it’s fitting that he’s being honored with an official portrait here in the Senate where he was respected and beloved by so many,” said Schatz. “His remarkable legacy and immeasurable contributions will continue to better people’s lives for generations to come.”
“In the history of our country only some 2,000 of our fellow citizens have served in the United States Senate, and of them only a very few are honored and remembered in our Capitol for their service,” said Case. “U.S. Sen. Daniel Ken Inouye richly deserves this honor and remembrance, not for the quantity but for the quality and example and enduring legacy of his service. His are timeless lessons in faith in our country, commitment to our values and steady stewardship of our ideals that justly serve as a guide for the opportunities and challenges to come.”
“Over a decade after his passing, Sen. Inouye continues to break barriers,” said Tokuda. “As the first person of color to be included in the U.S. Senate leadership portrait collection, he continues to be a role model and inspiration, reminding us that government functions best when it is representative and reflective of the people it serves.”
A Medal of Honor recipient, Inouye served with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in Europe during World War II and was wounded, losing his right arm. The flag of the 442nd can be seen in the background of his portrait.
After earning a J.D. degree from George Washington University Law School, Inouye was elected to Hawaii’s territorial House of Representatives in 1953, and was elected to the territorial Senate in 1957.
When Hawaii became a state in 1959, Inouye was elected as its first member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1962. He never lost an election in 58 years as an elected official. He chaired the Senate committees on Intelligence, Indian Affairs, Commerce, and Appropriations; served on the Senate Watergate Committee in the 1970s; and chaired the special committee investigating the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s.
Inouye was the first Japanese American to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Because of his seniority, he became president pro tempore of the Senate in 2010, making him third in the presidential line of succession after the vice president and the speaker of the House. He was the highest-ranking Asian American politician in U.S. history until Kamala Harris became vice president in 2021.
Inouye was the longest-serving U.S. senator when he died at the age of 88 in 2012. He posthumously received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama. Honolulu International Airport was renamed in his memory and a U.S. Navy destroyer also bears his name.