Daniel Inouye, the senior Senator from Hawaii and a Democrat, passed away at the young age of 88.
The main reason he's notable, politically is despite being having been the second longest continuously serving US Senator in history, after Senator Byrd, is that unlike many of his more well known contemporaries, he wasn't one for the public spotlight. He didn't spend his time giving interviews on news commentary shows, pandering for political points, and inviting controversy upon himself.
Another reason he's notable politically, besides not being a PR whore, is that as long as Hawaii has been a state, he's been serving in Congress on its behalf, either as a Representative or Senator.
He was also the first Japanese-American to be elected to Congress in 1959, only eighteen years after the Pearl Harbor Attacks.
His biggest moment in being the public spotlight was like twenty years ago, during the Iran-Contra Hearings where he was especially critical of Oliver North and compared Oliver Norths defense to the defendants in the Nuremberg Trials and a famous quote about the 'shadow government.'
He was also a longtime member of the Gang of 14
, a bipartisan group of Senators who actually try to get work done.
He was also the keynote speaker at the now infamous 1968 Democratic National Convention.
What he was most famous for, most likely though, was his service in World War II, a story I learned about very early one, and is actually probably one of the more famous personal accounts in World War II.
Second Lieutenant Daniel K. Inouye distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 21 April 1945, in the vicinity of San Terenzo, Italy. While attacking a defended ridge guarding an important road junction, Second Lieutenant Inouye skillfully directed his platoon through a hail of automatic weapon and small arms fire, in a swift enveloping movement that resulted in the capture of an artillery and mortar post and brought his men to within 40 yards of the hostile force. Emplaced in bunkers and rock formations, the enemy halted the advance with crossfire from three machine guns. With complete disregard for his personal safety, Second Lieutenant Inouye crawled up the treacherous slope to within five yards of the nearest machine gun and hurled two grenades, destroying the emplacement. Before the enemy could retaliate, he stood up and neutralized a second machine gun nest. Although wounded by a sniper’s bullet, he continued to engage other hostile positions at close range until an exploding grenade shattered his right arm. Despite the intense pain, he refused evacuation and continued to direct his platoon until enemy resistance was broken and his men were again deployed in defensive positions. In the attack, 25 enemy soldiers were killed and eight others captured. By his gallant, aggressive tactics and by his indomitable leadership, Second Lieutenant Inouye enabled his platoon to advance through formidable resistance, and was instrumental in the capture of the ridge. Second Lieutenant Inouye’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.
Some good speeches/interviews of his:Remembering December 7th, 1941On Behaving Like Rambo in WW2Dan Rather InterviewAn Actual Interview Not Related to WW2