Late Sen. Inouye to receive U.S. highest civil honor

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) — The late Sen. Daniel Inouye, the first U.S. congressman of Japanese descent, is a posthumous recipient of this year’s Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, the White House said Aug. 8.

President Barack Obama described Inouye as “a lifelong public servant,” referring to his service in combat during World War II and in both houses of Congress.

There are a 16 recipients of the medal this year, including former U.S. President Bill Clinton, former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee who oversaw the coverage of the Watergate scandal and former Sen. Richard Lugar who is known for his contribution to nuclear disarmament.

The ceremony will be held later this year at the White House.

Inouye, a Hawai‘i native, joined a special U.S. Army unit of Japanese Americans called the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and lost his right arm during combat in Europe before he was discharged with the rank of captain.

Inouye was elected to the House of Representatives in 1959, and then became a senator in 1962, serving for nine consecutive terms, the second-longest for a U.S. senator.

He was awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest medal for servicemen, in 2000.

He died on Dec. 17, 2012 at the age of 88.

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