President Barack Obama, speaking Friday at the funeral of Sen. Daniel Inouye in Washington, said the Hawaii senator "inspired all of us with his courage."
In remarks at the National Cathedral -- where Vice President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., Sen. Joe Lieberman, Ind-Conn., and former President Bill Clinton were also in attendance -- Obama said Inouye was his "earliest political inspiration" as a member of the Senate Watergate Committee.
Obama recalled watching the Watergate hearings with his mother as a child in Hawaii, which Inouye represented in the Senate for nearly 50 years before his death Monday at age 88.
The president recalled how, as the child of a white mother and black father, he had been fascinated by "this man of Japanese descent ... full of dignity and grace."
"We remember a man who inspired all of us with his courage and moved us with his compassion, that inspired us with his integrity, and who taught so many of us, including a young boy growing up in Hawaii, that America has a place for everyone," Obama said.
He said Inouye, who had experienced discrimination because of his Japanese heritage, did not project the conventional image of a U.S. senator, yet he "commanded the respect of an entire nation."
Obama said Inouye "embodied the very best of aloha."
Reid said Inouye "lived a full and productive life" and "died as he lived -- with great dignity."
"Daniel Inouye advocated for the rights of all Americans -- regardless of the color of their skin or where their parents were born or what their religion was," Reid said.
Inouye's casket was carried into the cathedral by an eight-member U.S. military honor guard. The body of the World War II veteran and Medal of Honor recipient had lain in state at the Capitol Rotunda.
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