Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Aloha, chaver, dear friend of Israel.

Aloha chaver.
Shalom dear friend of Israel, Senator Daniel Inouye.
Your memory will be a blessing in Hawaii, in America, and here in Israel.

Official photo (2009) from http://www.inouye.senate.gov/

We are deeply indebted to the Senator for standing by Israel for many decades.
Inouye's latest achievement was to successfully push for funding for our  Iron Dome missile defense system which saved many lives when hundreds of rockets were fired at us from Gaza. 
He visited Israel just last January.  See a nice picture of him and our Prime Minister here.  

In a Jerusalem Post article I learned this: 

Inouye, who lost an arm while fighting in Europe during World War II, and was later decorated with a Congressional Medal of Honor for his service, traced his interest in Jews and Judaism to his rehabilitation in a military hospital in New Jersey in 1945.

Inouye said that in the next bed over was another soldier recuperating from his wounds. When Inouye asked the man about his wounds, the “blonde, blue-eyed officer” said it happened after he liberated a prison camp “where there were ovens, and people cooked in the ovens, and bodies stacked up” like kindling wood.

“I asked him what kind of prison it was, was it for murderers?” Inouye retold the tale in his deep, bass voice.

“‘No,’ he said, ‘they were Jews.’ I asked what crime they committed, and his answer changed my life. He said, ‘Well you know, Dan, people don’t like Jews.’” Inouye said this left a lasting impression on him, and that a few years later, when the honor society at his law school, George Washington University, refused to accept two students because they were Jewish, he said he told the group that if the Jews were blackballed, “then kick me out, too.”

Inouye dated his concrete connection to Israel back to 1951, when he was a salesman in Hawaii for Israel bonds. He quipped that he was the first person in his state to buy an Israeli bond, and still has it framed in his office, along with a mezuzah on the door and “menorahs all over the place.”

“There was a time I considered conversion,” he said.

“But I decided not to because my mother was such a devout Christian, she might not get over it.”

 Through all his accomplishments, starting with his enlistment at age 17, not long after Pearl Harbor, Daniel Inouye remained a humble man. 
 According to a statement from his office, he was asked recently how he wished to be remembered.
 "I represented the people of Hawaii and this nation honestly and to the best of my ability. I think I did OK," he said.

I almost fainted reading about his act of heroism in battle in Italy, April 1945.  
Read his own telling of it in the Atlantic

For ABC Wednesday, W is for World War II hero. 

Rest in peace, dear Senator Inouye.  Aloha, chaver.

UPDATE: See also blogger friend Cloudia's 2-post tribute at Comfort Spiral (she actually lives in Hawaii).
She has a moving video of Inouye telling about how his father took leave of him before he went off to fight the war.  [The war, I might add, of the country that mercilessly put Japanese-Americans into internment camps.]
The video is a lesson for us in honor, sacrifice, honesty, bravery, leadership.
Also recommended: A loving op-ed by a former Israeli ambassador to Washington, DC.


Norma Ruttan said...

Thank you for sharing so much that I didn't know about this brave man. He certainly is an excellent choice for W.

Anonymous said...

what a beautiful story. i have a tear or two in my eye. this strikes a chord in me as i also feel a deep connection with Israel and Judaism. i started conversion many years ago but didn't finish because of my family. thank you Dina for your wonderful blog. shalom

Leslie: said...

Gee, I've heard of him but didn't know about his heroism in WW2.

abcw team

crystal said...

I liked him too. A brave and good person (and a liberal Democrat ;).

Cloudia said...

Thank you for the REST of the story I did not know about a beloved 'uncle.' Tomorrow is my tribute to him. REALLY appreciate knowing this, Dina

Aloha from a bereft Hawaii, my Friend
Comfort Spiral
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Roger Owen Green said...

I remember him more from Watergate and Iran-Contra, as well as his war service.
ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Nadege said...

He was a good man, a hero and he will be missed!

Mary Gerdt said...

Thank you for this history of a great man.mary

Anonymous said...

A fine man and good human being,he was the sort of person we should all aspire to become.
Thank you for this lovely post in his honor.

VP said...

A brave man in war and peace. San Terenzo is not too far from here, near La Spezia if I am not wrong.
By the way, also the main square of Camp Darby is dedicate to a Japanese-American from Hawaii!

Robin said...

You know, until now I'd never realized he was missing an arm. What a story, what a true hero.

Rest in peace Senator, we couldn't have asked for a better or more honorable friend.

May his memory be a blessing.

Spiderdama said...

Thanks for informative post about this hero.
I knew nothing about him (embarrassing)

Berowne said...

No one's answered my quiz this week, but I thought surely someone in Israel could...

Mama Pajama said...

he was a true American hero - so much respect for the late Senator, his was an example worth noting. thanks for honoring him, Dina!

Kay said...

This is such a moving post, Dina. Thank you so much! I didn't know about the connection Dan Inouye had to Israel and to the Jewish people. He was a pretty amazing man.