By BECKY BOHRER
2012-12-24 04:44 AM
A 19-gun cannon salute was fired as Inouye's coffin arrived for the service at Honolulu's National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, the final resting place for thousands of World War II veterans. More than 400 members of the storied Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team _ of which Inouye was a part _ are buried at the site.
Several cabinet secretaries and a number of senators also attended the service, including fellow Hawaii Democratic Sen. Daniel Akaka and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
"Daniel was the best senator among us all," Reid told those assembled. "Whenever we needed a noble man to lean on, we turned to Sen. Dan Inouye. He was fearless."
The 88-year-old Inouye died of respiratory complications on Dec. 17.
He was the first Japanese-American elected to both houses of Congress and the second-longest serving senator in U.S. history.
The past week has been marked by tributes and honors for Inouye, with services held in Washington, D.C., and in Hawaii. His body lay in state at both the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Thursday and the Hawaii state Capitol on Saturday.
Inouye was a high school senior in Honolulu on Dec. 7, 1941, when he watched dozens of Japanese planes fly toward Pearl Harbor and other Oahu military bases to begin a bombing raid that changed the course of world events.
He volunteered for a special U.S. Army unit of Japanese-Americans and lost his right arm in a battle with Germans in Italy. That scratched his dream of becoming a surgeon and he went to law school and into politics instead.
He became known as an economic power in his home state as part of the Senate Appropriations Committee, where he steered federal money toward Hawaii to build roads, schools and housing.
Obama eulogized Inouye during a service at Washington's National Cathedral on Friday, saying that Inouye's presence during the Watergate hearings that forced President Richard M. Nixon to resign in 1974 helped show him what could be possible in his own life.
The president arrived early Saturday in Honolulu for his annual Christmas family vacation.