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23/12/2012: Ambassador Cuisia Bids Final Farewell to Senator Inouye

23 December 2012

HONOLULU—Sen. Daniel Inouye, the leading voice of the Philippines in the United States Congress, was laid to rest here today with Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia Jr. joining President Barack Obama and other ranking American officials in bidding farewell to the Hawaii legislator.

“It was a very fitting tribute to a great man, an extraordinary American patriot, and the most respected Asian-American to have served in the US Congress,” Ambassador Cuisia said.

Among those who joined members of Senator Inouye’s immediate family in the ceremonies at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific aside from President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Gov. Neil Abercrombie, Senators Daniel Akaka and Mazie Hirono, Congresswomen Coleen Hanabusa and Tulsi Gabbard and Pacific Command Chief Adm. Sam Locklear.

Also present were several members of the Cabinet and of the US Senate and House of Representatives as well as surviving members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team who saw action with Senator Inouye in Europe in World War II.

Aside from Ambassador Cuisia, the other foreign dignitaries present were former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, Japanese Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae and Consul General Julius Torres of the Philippine Consulate General in Hawaii.

“The Philippines and the Filipino people are eternally indebted to Senator Inouye,” Ambassador Cuisia said as he paid tribute to the late Medal of Honor recipient who was responsible for obtaining recognition and compensation for thousands of Filipino World War II veterans.

“It was indeed an honor to have worked with him in a number of issues involving the Philippines,” he said.

The Philippines demonstrated the high regard it placed on Senator Inouye with no less than Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. Del Rosario attending the memorial services for the legislator at the US Capitol on Thursday.

Secretary Del Rosario, who developed a deep friendship with Senator Inouye during his term as ambassador to the US, immediately flew to Washington upon learning of his death from respiratory complications on Monday. He was invited by Senator Inouye’s family to sit with them during the entire ceremony.

“It was an honor for me to have been able to pay my final respects and bid farewell to such a giant of a man,” Secretary Del Rosario said before leaving for Damascus on Thursday.

“Senator Inouye will always be remembered for his strong support for the Philippines. With his unexpected passing, we lost our leading champion in the US Congress.”

Ambassador Cuisia himself attended the Capitol ceremonies as well as the memorial service at the National Cathedral where President Obama and former President Bill Clinton were among those who paid tribute to the late senator.

In today’s hour-and-a-half service in Hawaii, Admiral Locklear, Senators Reid and Akaka, Brig. Gen. James Hirai and Senator Inouye’s Chief of Staff Jennifer Sabas paid tribute to the late lawmaker’s selfless service to his countrymen and his courage, humility, leadership and dignity.

The ceremony was capped by the rendition by the Celtic Pipes and Drums of Hawaii of "Danny Boy," one of Senator Inouye’s favorite songs; the playing of “Taps” by Montana Sen. Jon Tester; a 19-gun salute; and a fly-by four F-22 jetfighters.

“It was very solemn and impressive,” Ambassador Cuisia said in describing the memorial service that was attended by more than 1,000 people. ###