Interned during the war because he was of Japanese descent, he enlisted in the Army and fought in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a highly decorated outfit. Inouye lost an arm in combat when he took on three German machinegun nests single-handedly. He was eventually awarded the Medal of Honor.*
He was elected to the House of Representatives and began serving on the day that Hawaii became a state in 1959. In 1962, he was elected to the Senate and served there until his death.
This came to me by e-mail:
I’m reminded of a story he used to tell of his first day in Congress. Walking around the capitol, he encountered then-speaker Sam Rayburn who addressed him by name. Inouye expressed his surprise that Rayburn would know his name even though they’d never met. Said Rayburn, ‘Just how many one-armed Japs do you think we have around here.’Aloha, Senator.
* In the 1990s, the Army reevaluated how institutional racism led to under-awarding medals for minorities during World War II.