BY CONGRESSWOMAN COLLEEN HANABUSA– This week, we celebrate the birthdays of Dan and Danny, two of Hawai’i’s proudest sons.

Born just days apart in the same year, Senators Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka have dedicated their lives to improving ours. As young men, they served during World War Two, and would take divergent paths as they continued their service to Hawai’i: Inouye as a young political leader, and Akaka as an educator. Through the decades to this day, they have never stopped their service, and Hawai’i is better for it.

Daniel Ken Inouye was born in Honolulu on September 7, 1924. The son of Japanese-American immigrants, Dan has lived an all-American life. Serving in the military during World War Two, he earned the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and United States Medal of Honor. Going to college on the G.I. Bill, Dan earned a law degree. He continued his proud tradition of service in the Hawai’i legislature, then as the state of Hawai’i’s first member of Congress (as well as America’s first Japanese-American Congressman), as a U.S. Senator, and now, as the President Pro-Tempore of the U.S. Senate.

Born just days later on September 11, 1924, Daniel Kahikina Akaka was raised in a deeply religious family and learned the importance of ohana at an early age. After graduating high school, he served four years in the Army Corps of Engineers before attending college on the G.I. Bill. It was there that Danny began studying to become an educator, and went on to serve as a high school educator for 16 years before turning his focus on government. He ran for Congress in 1976 and won. In 1990, after the death of Senator Spark Matsunaga, Danny again rose to the challenge at hand, and became a member of the U.S. Senate, the first person of Native Hawaiian ancestry to serve in that body.

In countless ways, Dan Inouye and Danny Akaka have made Hawai’i a better place to live and call home. I’m proud to call them “Senator,” and prouder still to be able to call them “friend.”

Mahalo for your service, Senators Inouye and Akaka.

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