Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Sid Salter: Sen. Inouye was a Product of a Nation Striving to Unite, Defend Freedoms, Heal Differences

 One of the more meaningful events during the observances last week of the 80th anniversary of the Dec. 7, 1941, attacks on Pearl Harbor was the commissioning of the U.S. Navy’s newest guided-missile destroyer USS Daniel Inouye.

Inouye served in Congress from Hawaii for a half-century before his death in 2012. He was a patriot and a hero.

Like the late Mississippi political icon U.S. Sen. John C. Stennis, Inouye was a former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He had vast influence over the nation’s military affairs. Inouye was a loyal Democrat and was committed to defending civil rights along with maintaining a strong and ready fighting force in the military,

One of Inouye’s closest friends on Capitol Hill was the late U.S. Sen. Robert “Bob” Dole, the conservative Republican from Kansas. Dole, like Inouye, was maimed in combat in service of his country. Dole died last week after a magnificent career in public service.

It’s rather hard to imagine today’s environment in Congress producing those kinds of friendships among men and women who could and would work across the aisle for the good of the country rather than the good of one’s party or political clique.

In 2001, it was my honor to interview Sen. Inouye at a Camp Shelby reception prior to the dedication of the new Armed Forces Museum on the grounds of this storied old South Mississippi military training camp. I was reminded that heroes come in all shapes, sizes and colors - from every racial and ethnic background and from the least likely of people who find themselves in dire circumstances.

Born in Honolulu in 1924 to Japanese immigrants, Inouye was at 17 a Honolulu high school student when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Trained in first aid, he spent the week after the raid attending casualties.

Like many Japanese Americans, he petitioned the government to be allowed to prove his loyalty through military service after Pearl Harbor. But anti-Japanese sentiments prevailed until 1943, when he was allowed to enlist as part of the storied 442nd Regimental Combat Team - which would become the most decorated U.S. Army regiment in World War II.

Inouye told the crowd at the 2001 museum dedication at Camp Shelby: “They said we were going to Mississippi to train. I said: ‘Mississippi? They lynch people in Mississippi!’”


But he said his troop train pulled into Hattiesburg and was met by Red Cross women offering sandwiches, coffee and hot soup. From a Hawaiian paradise with no pests, Inouye and his 442nd Regiment “Go For Broke!” comrades were introduced at Camp Shelby to “ticks, chiggers and snakes” in sweltering humidity.


The training was tough - made tougher still by the resentment of some training officers with a decided anti-Japanese bias. Inouye and his Nisei compatriots had to prove their mettle by training harder, longer and stronger than their white counterparts - and they did.

Inouye in his 2001 speech told the Mississippi crowd of over 1,200 about a night’s leave from Camp Shelby: “The first place I ever danced with a white woman was in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. I do not know where that lady is today, but I wish to say to her, ‘Thank you.’ ”

The crowd roared in laughter. Inouye later turned that laughter to tears when he recounted: “I learned in Mississippi that America is a good country. I learned that being an American is not a matter of color, but a matter of mind and heart.”

Inouye would leave Camp Shelby for duty in Italy and France. On April 21, 1945, Inouye led an assault on a fortified hillside at Colle Muscatello, Italy. Three German machine gun nests opened fire on his unit. He took out the three nests in the face of heavy enemy fire - but not before that enemy fire cost him his right arm. He won the Congressional Medal of Honor.

One other Mississippi-related legacy Inouye left was on legislation he co-authored with the late Mississippi U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran. On July 23, 1999, President Clinton signed into law H.R. 4, the National Missile Defense Act of 1999, stating that it is the policy of the United States to deploy as soon as technologically possible an effective NMD system. 

The USS Daniel Inouye is now part of the system.


Anonymous said...

Yes, a great American and member of our greatest generation. I should point out that you don't "win" the Medal of Honor, you earn it.

I have met three recipients of the MOH, and without exception they were the most humble people you could ever meet. Heroes all.

Anonymous said...

I don't think I've ever 'toasted' a Salter article, but will, in this case. Well done. Great article.

Anonymous said...

When Sen Cochran was considering running in 2014 the loss of Inouye made him want to retire. They were great friends that were able to work together to get things done. Even in 2014 the world had begun to devolve into our current state of partisan talking points and soundbites for the camera.

I hope we can find our way back to seeing past our differences to work together.

Anonymous said...

He was a liberal democrat that marched in lockstep with the party. He contributed to the destruction of the U.S. as much as the democrats are doing today.

Anonymous said...

If he were still alive he would be in lock step with Polisie and Schumer and Cortez , liberal democrat .

Anonymous said...

Hmmmmmm. worked with Thad in 2014 ? By all accounts Senator Cochran was being led around by his handlers due to cognitive issues and voting a lot like his good friend. Inouye was a liberal ....far left one and would be worse than Ben Ben had he lived. Lets not speak ill of the dead but be truthful. Liberals today are NOT into uniting and strive only to destroy.

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Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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