Delegate Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen mourns the passing of Hawaii’s legendary senator and a godfather to all the Pacific Islands especially American Samoa, former U.S. senator Daniel Akaka.
“Today I both mourn and celebrate the life of former U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, a gracious and humble statesman, whom I have had the privilege of knowing my entire life. Senator Akaka and his wife Millie were dear friends of my parents, a role model to countless Hawaiian and other Pacific Island leaders and a true mentor and inspiration to many, including myself, to become public servants,” she said in a statement.
The congresswoman said Akaka was a tireless advocate beyond Hawaii to American Samoa, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Guam, Palau and the Marianas and elsewhere throughout the Asia-Pacific region stemming from his early days as an educator having received both his masters and undergraduate degrees in education from the University of Hawaii.
“Senator Akaka taught many, taught them well and led humbly by example,” said Radewagen.
She said having known senator Akaka is something for which she is truly grateful.
“He passed away after a long and distinguished life of service dedicated not only to the people of Hawaii, but also to the people of American Samoa and throughout our country and all over the greater Asia-Pacific region. He was a great man who did a great deal for everyone.Indeed, he took care of a great many people and improved their lives substantially as reflected in his Ministerial work throughout Micronesia and the Pacific after his World War II service helping reestablish missionary work in the region after the war,” she said.
Akaka was the first native Hawaiian to serve in the U.S. Senate and was a strong advocate for native Hawaiians and all Pacific Island people, especially American Samoa.
“He was a tremendous advocate for our veterans, of which he was one having served in the Army in World War II. He had a most distinguished political career that started in the House of Representatives in 1976 until 1990 and then was elevated into the U.S. Senate in 1990 serving until 2013. During his time in the Senate, he served as chairman of both the Veterans and Indians Affairs Committees. He truly shaped the U.S. policy for Hawaii, American Samoa and the Pacific region for several generations and did so in a very positive way,” said Radewagen.
“I last had the wonderful opportunity to speak with senator Akaka and to be with him at the funeral of the late Congressman Mark Takai in Honolulu in 2016 when Speaker of the House Paul Ryan asked me to represent him at those services just two years ago. He was in remarkable shape at age 91 and was engaged as ever in discussing the issues to help Hawaii and American Samoa just as always,” she added.
“It was good to be with him and I will greatly miss him as I know all of Hawaii and American Samoa will and people around our country and the world will, too. The Aloha spirit is alive and well more than ever because of the life of Senator Daniel Akaka. My thoughts and prayers go out to all his friends, family and constituents as well,” said Radewagen. (PR)