Quotes

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Quotes2019-02-21T00:06:47-10:00

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The principle on which this country was founded and by which it has always been governed is that Americanism is a matter of mind and heart; Americanism is not, and never was, a matter of race or ancestry.

– PRESIDENT FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT

Upon signing the Executive Order that created the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, February 1943. The only All Japanese Unit during World War II.

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The question we Americans have debated over the decades is simple but profound: ‘Should we impose our will upon other lands? Or should we adopt a more peaceful path in convincing others of the goodness of our system and philosophy?’ I suppose this matter will be debated for as long as we exist.

– DANIEL K. INOUYE

Commencement Address, American University, May 8, 2005.

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Democracy is an imperfect concept slowly seeking perfection.

– DANIEL K. INOUYE

Commencement Address, American University, May 8, 2005.

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To state the obvious – security is interwoven with economic prosperity. An insecure nation is an unstable nation. An unstable nation becomes a volatile nation. Hence, our goal must be to strengthen relations, maintain peace and stability without the need for military might. In the end, national prosperity is inextricably tied to national security.

– DANIEL K. INOUYE

From “Our Place in the Pacific” speech, Navy League lunch, January 13, 2011.

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Hawaii’s people are the faces of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). We have been shaped by the history, culture and events of this region. I have long believed that Hawaii – multicultural and tolerant – is what the world should always strive to be.

– DANIEL K. INOUYE

Welcome to Hawaii speech to the 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Yokohama, Japan on November 11, 2010.

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The agenda remains unfulfilled. Our work has only started. Because to bring about the restoration of long-dormant sovereignty, the people of Hawaii must convince themselves that sovereignty is just, morally correct and legal. And we must convince the governments of the United States, the State of Hawaii, and our several counties to act in concert to make this goal possible. As always, I stand ready to do my part.

– DANIEL K. INOUYE

Statement at 100th Anniversary of the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani, January 17, 1993.

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It is a story of how a great nation betrayed the principles which made it great, and thereby became hostage to hostage-takers …

No times were more dangerous than when our country was born, when revolution was our midwife. Our system of government has withstood the tests and tensions of civil conflict, depression, and two world wars, times hardly less challenging than our own presently. …

My fellow Americans, out of this experience, may we all better understand and appreciate our Constitution, strive harder to preserve it, and make a fresh start at restoring the trust between the branches of government. For, in America as 200 years ago, the people still rule.

– DANIEL K. INOUYE

Excerpts from Chair Inouye’s closing statement at the Iran-Contra hearings, August 3, 1987.

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Should we, in the defense of democracy, adopt and embrace one of the most important tenets of Communism and Marxism–the ends justify the means? This is not one of the commandments of democracy. Our government is not a government of men, it is still a government of laws.

–  DANIEL K. INOUYE

Excerpt from Chair Inouye’s statement in the final questioning of Colonel Oliver North at the Iran-Contra hearings, July 14, 1987.

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The involvement of the President of the United States in criminal activities and the subsequent pardon of that President even for well-intentioned reasons does not teach a fitting moral lesson to our youngsters. The apparent lesson is that there is a double standard of justice—one for the rich and powerful and one for the poor and powerless.

Although we cannot erase the sequence of Watergate events, we need not encourage our children to accept public corruption as inevitable.

– DANIEL K. INOUYE

Speech delivered to Hawaii PTA, October 26, 1974.

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Mr. Chairman, the hearings which we begin today may be the most important held in this century. At stake is the very integrity of the election process. Unless we can safeguard that process from fraud, manipulation, deception, and other illegal or unethical activities, one of our most precious rights, the right to vote, will be without meaning. Democracy will have been subverted.

– DANIEL K. INOUYE

Excerpt from opening statement as a member of the Senate committee investigating the Watergate scandal, May 17, 1973.

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It is no wonder that the veterans shout and curse. It is also not surprising that many of them no longer feel attached to this country as their home. They have not forsaken us; they feel that we have forsaken them. I want to add my voice to their shouts and curses. The Vietnam War cannot be over for us until we redeem our commitment to the men who accepted these risks of war.

Peace has become hell for hundreds of thousands of Vietnam veterans. We can change that if we will only pledge not to forget those brave men and to commit ourselves to welcoming them into our places of work, our homes, and our society, as full-fledged American heroes with a special claim on our love and gratitude.

– DANIEL K. INOUYE

Support for Vietnam veterans, May 24, 1974.

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I’m used to racism. I was in an all-Japanese unit fighting with an all-Black unit, Puerto Rican unit, Filipino unit. This is in the war. To go to a combat zone and see signs, ‘White Officers Only,’ you want to shoot that sign off. What war are we fighting here?

– DANIEL K. INOUYE

April 18, 2011

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Laws cannot change the hearts of men, and we will not change the hearts of men by this law if indeed we are able to enact it.

Yet, I do not believe America will fall now or in the future, and I further believe this one great infirmity, this inconsistency in our national character and in our view of ourselves will in time be healed. Although the new law is not a solution, it is part of the solution and it is the part that we, the lawmakers, are responsible to provide. The rest must be provided in the churches, in the schools and in the consciences of the people. It is time for all Americans to be included in the American dream.

– DANIEL K. INOUYE

Statement in support of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Senate floor, 1963.

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I hope that the mistakes made and suffering imposed upon Japanese-Americans nearly 60 years ago will not be repeated against Arab-Americans whose loyalties are now being called into question. History is an excellent teacher, provided we heed its lessons, otherwise, we are likely to repeat them.

– DANIEL K. INOUYE

Commencement address at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, May 15, 2003.

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People have asked me how I want to be remembered and I say very simply that I represented the people honestly and to the best of my abilities. I think I did okay.

– DANIEL K. INOUYE

Letter to Governor Neil Abercrombie, dated December 17, 2012, the day of Inouye’s death.

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I have heard so often in the past few weeks, eloquent and good men plead for the chance to let the majority rule.  That is, they say, the essence of democracy. I disagree, for to me it is equally clear that democracy does not necessarily result from majority rule, but rather from the forged compromise of the majority with the minority.

The philosophy of the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights is not simply to grant the majority the power to rule, but is also to set out limitation after limitation upon that power. Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion; what are these but the recognition that at times when the majority of men would willingly destroy him, a dissenting man may have no friend but the law.

You sow the wind, for minorities change and the time will surely come when you will feel the hot breath of a righteous majority at the back of your own neck. Only then perhaps will you realize what you have destroyed.

– DANIEL K. INOUYE

Support for the Filibuster, maiden speech on the Senate floor, January 31, 1963.

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I went up to the cemetery at Punchbowl and walked alone among the graves of the good men with whom I had served. I wanted to assure them that I would not let them down, never dishonor the cause and the country for which they had given so much. I wanted to promise them that I was not going to Washington to represent the 442, or the Nisei, or any other separate group. I was going to represent all the people of Hawaii and I asked God’s help in this, the greatest undertaking of my life

– DANIEL K. INOUYE

Reflecting on winning the 1959 election as U.S. congressman for the new state of Hawaii, 1963.

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I gave this arm to fight fascists. If my country wants the other one to fight communists, it can have it. What are you prepared to give?

– DANIEL K. INOUYE

Spoken at a campaign rally in Aina Haina for the Hawaii Territorial Legislature, 1954.

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On this day, let us remember all those who have had the courage to put on the uniform and sacrifice for our great nation. Our way of life has always been, and will always be, protected and preserved by volunteers willing to give their lives for what we believe in.

– DANIEL K. INOUYE

Statement on Pearl Harbor Day, December 7, 2002.

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Ours is a nation which sends its young into battle, not on the capricious acts of individuals, but with the collective judgment of the people – expressed through their representatives – that goals of engagement are worthy of the sacrifice we ask of our young.

It is no easy thing to send men into combat, and it should not be easily arrived at. That is the essence of the War Powers Resolution. It confirms the intent of the authors of the Constitution. The Congress has a constitutional role both in the introduction of American armed forces into hostilities and in the determination to continue the use of such forces.

– DANIEL K. INOUYE

Statement on the War Powers Resolution delivered on the Senate floor, September 23, 1983.

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War was much more than blood and guts. We have an extraordinary Constitution. We have an extraordinary set of laws. But throughout the history of mankind, not just the history of the United States, war has always been the justification to leaders to set aside these laws.

– DANIEL K. INOUYE

Senate floor speech, December 7, 2011.

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My first thought was that I could no longer play the ukulele, and my dream of becoming a surgeon was over. But it’s a funny thing — I never considered myself a cripple or an invalid. It just never became part of my thinking. It isn’t part of my thinking today.

– DANIEL K. INOUYE

From “Journey to Washington” describing the aftermath of losing his arm. Published 1967.

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The doctors looked at me; they’re mumbling among themselves. Two minutes later a chaplain comes up — opening words: ‘God loves you.’ I said: ‘I know that. I love Him too,’ Inouye recounted with a chuckle. ‘But I’m not ready to meet Him yet!’

– DANIEL K. INOUYE

From “Journey to Washington,” recounting being shot three times in combat. Published 1967.

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I don’t know how it got started, but pretty soon our pidgin English expression, ‘Go for broke!’ became the combat team motto. What did it mean?

To give everything we did, everything we had; to jab every bayonet dummy as though it were a living, breathing Nazi; to scramble over an obstacle course as though our lives depended on it; to march quick-time until we were ready to drop, and then break into a trot.

– DANIEL K. INOUYE

From “Journey to Washington,” on the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Published 1967.

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Over the years, many have asked us — Why? Why were you willing and ready to give up your life?

I told my son it was a matter of honor. I told him about my father’s farewell message when I left home to put on the uniform of my country. My father was not a man of eloquence but he said, ‘Whatever you do, do not dishonor the family, and do not dishonor the country.’ To have done any less than we did in battle would have dishonored our families and our country.

– DANIEL K. INOUYE

From keynote speech, 50th anniversary of the Regimental Combat Team in Hawaii, March 24, 1993

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My mother never forgot the abiding kindness of the people who cared for her in those troubled years and she held ever after a special regard for the Hawaiian people.

-DANIEL K. INOUYE

From “Journey to Washington” on his mother, Kame, who was an orphan raised by a Native Hawaiian family, before being sent to the Susannah Wesley Orphanage. Published 1967.