Daniel K. Inouye

LONG STORY SHORT WITH LESLIE WILCOX
Heather Haunani Giugni

 

Heather Haunani Giugni is a longtime filmmaker whose passion for preserving Hawaii’s stories culminated in the establishment of ‘Ulu‘ulu, the Henry Ku‘ualoha Giugni Moving Image Archive at the University of Hawaii – West Oahu. The archive is named after her father, a longtime aide to the late Senator Daniel K. Inouye. Because of her father’s career, Heather’s early life was split between the multi-cultural world of Hawaii and the racially divided world of Washington, D.C. Heather’s latest project, the television series Family Ingredients, premieres on PBS stations across the U.S. in the summer of 2016.

 

This program will be rebroadcast on Wednesday, Dec. 21 at 11:00 pm and Sunday, Dec. 25 at 4:00 pm.

 

Heather Haunani Giugni Audio

 

Download the Transcript

 

Transcript

 

When we were in Virginia… as a family, there were these men that were in a truck, and uh, they reached over and spit at us. That was a really int—I didn’t know at the time what they were doing. I thought it was such an odd thing. But um, you know, years later, I—I thought about that.

 

Did your family talk about it right after that?

 

You know, my parents just totally had to ignore it and move on. But it—it completely was related to the fact that my father was one color, and my mother was another, and we were in the State of Virginia, right across the Potomac.

 

Her early life was split between two worlds…the multi-cultural world of the Hawaiian islands, and the racially-divided world of Washington DC in the 1960s. She saw the power of government and politics firsthand, and also saw the power of traditional stories of Hawaii. Heather Haunani Giugni…next, on Long Story Short.

 

Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox is Hawaii’s first weekly television program produced and broadcast in high definition.

 

Aloha mai kakou…I’m Leslie Wilcox. Heather Haunani Giugni has a reputation in Hawaii as being a behind-the-scenes starter of great ideas…ideas like a television news segment delivered in the Hawaiian language…or an archive to preserve the moving images that visually tell Hawaii’s history. Her father, Henry Giugni, was a long-time aide to the late Senator Daniel K. Inouye, and former Sergeant at Arms of the United States Senate. You may have seen some of the programs and documentaries that Heather has produced…shows that tell the stories of Hawaii and our diverse cultures. This “starter” began her life in Pearl City in central Oahu.

 

You’re hapa. Your family has mixed blood. You’ve got Hawaiian on both sides; right?

 

M-hm.

 

Tell me about your family.

 

My family; my mother is—um, was Muriel Roselani Giugni. Her name was Austin, and she was brought up on the um, Pearl City—Pearl City Peninsula, as was my father, whose name was Henry Kuualoha Giugni. And his father came from uh, Napa Valley. He came across when he read a little classified ad in the San Francisco Chronicle that they were building Pearl Harbor. So, he jumped on a ship and came over, and met my pure Hawaiian grandmother, and … they had two sons. And one of them was my father.

 

Many people who are hapa, especially in earlier years, talk about being conflicted—who are they really, which side should they pull, and people react to them differently, based on the … the mores of their particular culture. Did you go through any of that soul-searching about, Who am I, what side do I pull?

 

My parents—you know, I lived in uh, a fabulous household where um, I don’t think we were really given—I know we weren’t given a blue ribbon or a pink ribbon, and—or we weren’t given a color ribbon. You know, we just lived in a community that shared food, and um, and joy. And uh, and there was no um, issues about … what ethnic group we were from. Having said that, uh, it was clear in uh, my family’s history on um, my mother’s side that they married out early from the 1880s, um, Europeans. So, uh, the color faded quite rapidly in that generation. My mother had blue eyes, blond hair growing up. My father, on the other hand, um … was half-Hawaiian and half-Italian. So, um … I was brought up in a very multiethnic neighborhood, um, considered hapa. I was brought up during the 50s and 60s in a time when um … there was a lot of change going on, but uh … I think hapa wasn’t a bad word; it was what I was.

 

That followed on the heels of those times when so many Hawaiians wanted to be Western. They felt like, We’ve got to do away with our language, it’s time to join the US. The US and the American Way.

 

Um, well, I don’t think my father could deny the fact that he has brown skin and uh, Hawaiian features. So—and uh, and I think he was very proud of being Hawaiian. But my grandmother, who I never knew, she uh, passed away before I was born, um … was a very strong woman, from what I understood. She was a principal at Pearl City Elementary, among the uh, many Hawaiian women that were principals during those years. I think that she wanted the best for her son, and she um, she … chose for him to learn the new—the new uh, culture.

 

Well, what about you? Part-Hawaiian from Pearl City, a very Japanese American neighborhood, going to Kamehameha Schools. What was that like for you?

 

I loved Kamehameha Schools. I—um, I always um, aspired to wanting to uh, to attend that school. It was just one of the schools that I thought had the coolest kids [CHUCKLE] at the time, when I was younger. Um, I w—I just—I just loved the Big K.

 

A lot of people were surprised that you attended Kamehameha Schools. Because … light skin.

 

Well, I don’t know. I mean, I never thought about that, uh…

 

Did you get teased at the time?

 

Oh, you’re brave—you are ruthless. [CHUCKLE] No, um, uh, yeah, okay, I got—I got a little bit teased. It was—uh, but you know, it’s—it’s part of high school. Truly, I had the best time. The best time. I c—count myself extremely lucky and extremely fortunate. And I was a boarder, which meant that I had an opportunity to um, know um, people from the neighbor islands during a time when uh, their parents still worked at the sugarcane mills or the pineapple fields. Lanai was one of my favorite, favorite islands. When I uh, first met Lanai in—I think I was sixteen or seventeen … I um, fell in love with that island.

 

What family brought you in?

 

The Richardsons. Oh, Mina Morita; Hermi—Hermina Morita.

 

M-hm.

 

She was um, a classmate, and invited me over and uh, her family adopted me there. And it was truly a magical time; magical. They uh, still lived in their original uh, cowboy little uh, plantation homes up at Koele Ranch, with horses surrounding the place, the smell of kerosene lamps and um, pancakes in the morning, and going riding into the fields. It was just … a really fantastic time.

 

Heather Haunani Giugni’s comfortable life at the Kamehameha Schools and in Hawaii would soon be reshaped. Her father, after a number of law enforcement positions, found his calling as an aide-de-campe to the man who would become one of America’s most influential lawmakers. This job, which would turn into a life-long allegiance, took the Giugni family, including Heather and her three sisters, to the seat of power of the United States of America.

 

My father um … uh, who uh, was … um, first a policeman, and then uh … a liquor inspector, um, uh, gravitated toward uh, politics. And um, and … met Inouye, Dan Inouye, uh, was uh, impressed with him, and uh, and decided to follow him on his journey in life. And that’s when we ended up in Washington, DC in 1962.

 

What did he do in Senator Inouye’s office?

 

Oh, he did—you know, he started off as um … uh, as a young man as uh, the Senator’s driver, secretary, assistant, go-to boy. You know, everything. You know, he started off doing whatever the Senator needed to win. And um, and was extremely supportive and loyal, I think… he just really believed in the man, and uh, and just uh, hooked his little caboose up to, you know, the Senator’s … journey, and followed him to Washington, DC, where he continued as an assistant, uh, continued always as a driver until my dad became too sick. You know, when—uh, I think when they actually first arrived in Washington, DC, my parents were around thirty-six years of age. I think that um, uh, my mother never imagined uh, a—a longer stay than six years, and uh, they both passed away there in their eighties. So, that’s a pretty long run. And my father remained his driver until he couldn’t drive the Senator anymore. But um, he also went up the ranks as uh, Chief of Staff and um, and administrative assistant, and then eventually became sen—Sergeant at Arms.

 

Now, how does a half-Hawaiian, dark-skinned man like your dad, where did he go?

 

You know, I think he navigated his way fairly well in that situation. Um, he was well-liked on Capitol Hill.

 

He was a larger-than-life personality—

 

Yeah.

 

–wasn’t he?

 

Yeah, he was. He was—uh, definitely, he had friends um, that … you know, that—in the uh, garage basement that would only wash the senators’ cars, his car was—would always get washed first. And yet—uh, an—and he had uh, friends in high places. Uh, uh, he was close to um, many senators that um … uh, that he respected greatly, from both sides of the aisle.

 

And when anyone describes your father, they talk about the f—I think the first descriptive they use is, loyal. And I would have to say, looking at his record, that he was loyal to a fault. Because he did get in trouble for accepting campaign contributions from people that he probably shouldn’t have accepted them from.

 

Well, you know, that was just post-Watergate. You know, and um, and—when they changed the rules. And I guess my father did not get that uh, rule change. [CHUCKLE] The memo on that. You know, it’s hard to like, change habits, you know. Uh, so um … uh, I think that was the uh—you’re talking about the Gulf Oil uh …

 

I’m talking about just—several incidents of—one was with …

 

Yeah.

 

–Steinbrenner.

 

Yeah; that was that five thousand dol—yeah, yeah. This is uh, um … you know, it was just uh, uh … that was just a matter of um … I wouldn’t say miscommunication; it was just not um, um … being able to remember to hand the receipts in, and keep the receipts, and that kind of thing.

 

But he took responsibility for it, and—

 

And people said, you know, he would do anything for Senator Inouye.

 

Well, he believed in the man.

 

Mm.

 

So, um, that’s a good thing.

 

M-hm.

 

An—and he believed in uh, the Senator uh, doing good things. How many people can say that they were with a person from when … from their late twenties until, you know, eighty? That’s a pretty remarkable … uh, length of time to be with somebody, and continually uh, believe in the person.

 

In 1962, life in Washington DC was quite different from what it is today. The Civil Rights Amendment, which bans discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, wouldn’t be passed for another two years. The first black President was still 46 years in the future. For a mixed-race family, accustomed to the loving arms of Hawaii, the nation’s capitol could sometimes be an uninviting place. And for a young girl from Hawaii, the dichotomy between Hawaii and Washington DC could be disconcerting.

 

So, let’s talk about, yeah, experiences on both sides of the big pond.

 

Yeah. So, we um, went up to … we followed the Senator to DC in ’62. My father had gone up first to look for a place to live. Uh, it was um, not as easy, because uh, he was still a man of color, and um, while my mother was part-Hawaiian, she was a very light-skinned Hawaiian, so she was considered Haole visually. And uh … and when we arrived up there, he—my dad had already um, secured a house in Maryland. It was in a Catholic neighborhood, and uh, I remember that specifically because … everyone there was Catholic. It was such an interesting uh, division. You know, there were so many different divisions; by color, but also by religions.

 

Was there a color prohibition—

 

Well, it was—

 

–in your neighborhood? That was the law, right? Um—

 

No, there was no c—we were in Maryland, so my parents um, looked—you know, my father looked in Virginia, but he realized that uh, there’s a law that you cannot live in Virginia um, if you are mixed race.

 

Isn’t that amazing that in your lifetime, you were a little kid then, that that law was present?

 

Yeah; I know. Well, also, the Civil Rights Act hadn’t been written, so there were toilets for Black people, and toilets for White people.

 

I did have another experience when I was child at this Catholic school. And I’ll never um, forget this, because uh … we were—th—the nuns were preparing us for the first two Black children to enter our school. And they had us in the auditorium, and told us, you know, to act normal or whatever they were doing. And meanwhile, I was thinking, Who is coming from Mars? You know. [CHUCKLE] I mean, it was like one of these situations.

 

Because it was not a big deal to you if somebody was of another—

 

No, I didn’t—

 

–race was coming

 

No, I didn’t understand um … the way they were prepping and—uh, uh, for us … who these two children were, you know, that we were—that we were supposed to be acting normal about. And so, these two children showed up, and I looked at them, and they looked just like my father. And I called my mom up and said … I don’t want Daddy to pick me up today.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

‘Cause clearly, you know, it was a—uh, a very racist uh, community and it was shocking to see … to go to a place where there was—the pe—that parents taught their children to hate.

 

M-hm.

 

It just—

 

Especially when you’re making trips back and forth to Hawaii, and there was not this kind of …

 

No.

 

–racial charged …

 

No; there—

 

–action.

 

M-hm. And we would—and my parents uh, were very committed to making sure that if we had—uh, if we were going to school on the East Coast, um … at—at every vacation, we would all be sent back to Hawaii. And—and vice versa. So, my parents made a huge commitment to keeping us connected to Hawaii. So, we never felt, ever, disconnected from our home in Hawaii.

 

Growing up in Washington DC gave Heather Haunani Giugni the opportunity to witness historic events in the 60s that changed our nation. She marched to protest the use of nuclear weapons, and to support gay rights and abortion. At age 18, she was a young delegate to the 1972 Democratic National Convention. These causes and events shaped her sense of responsibility to make the world a better place. Her Hawaiian roots gave her a direction in which to focus her advocacy.

 

I was living in DC at the time of the Watergate hearings, and I snuck into the hearings all the time. It was pretty amazing, uh, to uh, to—to be part of um, those—uh, that event. I also uh, was affected by a lot of things that needed change. So, I spent a lot of my time on the National Mall protesting, while uh, the Senator and my father were behind the Italian marble watching, [CHUCKLE] watching these protests. So, I had uh, a few um, uh … uh, disagreements with my father over dinner… but I … y—you know, I loved him an—and uh, he really was my hero in so many ways, and uh, and one of the things I’m proudest of him, of many things uh, is the fact that he uh, marched in Selma, Alabama with Martin Luther King in those years. So, that was pretty phenomenal.

 

In 1981, after earning a degree in journalism from the University of Maryland, Heather Haunani Giugni came home to Hawaii. She worked for awhile at KGMB News, which, at the time, was by far the number one news station in Hawaii…a great opportunity for a budding journalist. But a career in news was not quite what Giugni saw for her future.

 

You worked at Bob Sevey’s old newsroom.

 

Bob Sevey’s with you, at KGMB News.

 

Yeah.

 

One of the good things. [CHUCKLE]

 

And yet, you didn’t stay in news. I mean, that was sort of the piko of the time, because of the … all of the opportunity to do good and to do well.

 

You know, I—I came back from DC, ‘cause I wanted to um … I came back ‘cause of my grandmother. I wanted to be with my uh, family um, before … people passed away. And uh, the news uh, was a great um, job, but I really cared about my community, and I really cared particularly about my Hawaiian community, and um … had the opportunity to create uh, programming for and about Hawaiians.

 

Heather Haunani Giugni was on a mission. She launched “Enduring Pride,” a magazine program by and for native Hawaiians. She co-produced the documentary, “One Voice,” bringing the story of the Kamehameha Schools Song Contest to the national public television audience. At the time of our conversation, in summer of 2016, she had produced 10 live broadcasts of the famed Song Contest. Giugni was instrumental in the inclusion of Hawaiian language segments in local television newscasts. Then Governor Abercrombie appointed her to the Hawaii State House of Representatives in 2012. And with Hollywood producer Chris Lee, she is a driving force behind Uluulu: The Henry Kuualoha Giugni Moving Image Archive of Hawai‘i.

 

And presently, uh, the uh, Moving Image Archive is uh, is something that I’m extremely proud of—

 

Which you are cofounder of.

 

Yeah; I’m one of the founders. But, you know, uh … there’s so many founders of that uh, archive. You know that archive was an idea that came around thirty years ago, maybe more, uh, of different um, librarians and archivists that wanted to save our moving image. The whole idea is to create it so that it’s available for public access, or otherwise, poho if it’s stuck in uh, a can or, you know, in uh, in a case, and nobody can ever see it. I mean…we’ve lost a lot … over the last forty years, but we’ve still gained a lot. And uh—

 

A lot of what?

 

Films and videos have disintegrated or been lost, or people have thrown them away.

 

I remember your coming to give a talk to a group I’m part of, and you just fired everybody in that room up, because you talked about the daily disintegration of film and videos, and family documentation that’s, you know, moldering under beds somewhere and in closets. And you had everybody just ready to go home and look under the bed, and into their closets.

 

Some people have. Some people have. We’ve gotten fabulous material. I mean … this is the best deal in the century. You give um, the archive your precious material, you still get to own the copyright of it. The archive finds the grant to have it transferred to multiple formats, then preserves it and servers not just here on island, but on the mainland, in the salt mine as well as in another facility, so it’s backup. And uh, and so, you have this historical preservation of an entire community.

 

What are the most amazing things you have seen … coming to you in this media archive? I know you have just … cans and cans of film, and all kinds of tapes of different vintages.

 

Okay; so every wo—every collection is my favorite collection. So we have just received your collection at PBS, so it’s pretty fantastic. So, thank you very much. It’s all about the future. Future curriculum, future education. And um, we have uh, collections from Eddie and Myrna Kamae, uh, um, as well as the Don Ho collection. Um, just received the KITV collection. We have al—KGMB’s collection was the—was the anchor.

 

Hello, I would have run for this if I knew what you got. You got all this office space…

 

But Senator Inouye’s collection … because of obviously my personal interest, is pretty fantastic. I see my father in uh, in his late twenties or early thirties, um, driving Miss Daisy [CHUCKLE] around. Which is the Senator and his wife.

 

I’ve been a fireman…a policeman…a liquor inspector…I started out as a messenger with Senator Inouye. A secretary…a driver…and he gave me an opportunity to get ahead. To study, and to learn…

 

And it’s fantastic, because it—it’s footage that, you know, that hasn’t been seen since 1958, 59. It’s just fabulous stuff of Nanakuli, and um, electioneering. An—and—and that’s what’s so fabulous about this footage, is that it’s not just about seeing people’s families, but it’s about seeing what they’re wearing, what they’re eating, what the landscape looks like.

I’m very into kakou. And I just really am a believer in that. And um, and this uh, this archive is about our community.

 

In 2013, Heather Giugni started one of her more ambitious projects. She gathered a 100% local production crew, added local chef and restaurateur Ed Kenney, and proceeded to tell the stories of dishes that our local heritage is based upon. At the intersection of food, family, culture and history is “Family Ingredients.”

 

[Video footage of “Family Ingredients”]

 

“Here we go . . . poisson cru.”

“Mmmmm . . . .” [laughter]

“I don’t have to fake it. It’s soooo good.”

 

Family Ingredients. I mean, this is an amazing, what we think here will be a phenomenon because of the combination of culture, genealogy, all kinds of history, food.

 

Yeah. Everything is an extension of … my belief system, and what I care about, my core, um, which is my community, my Hawaiian community, um, Hawaii. And everything starts there, and everything that I’ve done is related to that mission. And so, this is just um, part and parcel of that. In Family Ingredients, I just use food as chum to tell the story.

 

It’s not a food show, per se.

 

No, not at all. You know, we come from all different places, and so, it reconnects us to family and histories that we’ve either forgotten or never known, or—are reconnecting with.

 

And a lot of times, you know, we know the foods people bring to potlucks, but we don’t know the histories behind them.

 

M-hm.

 

And they’re so elemental and you know that they came from another country, but they’re as close to you as anything could be.

 

It’s the plantation story, you know, when all the workers um, came together and they’d s—all have their ethnic foods, and then they’d just all throw it into one pot. I mean, it was the invention of saimin; right?

 

And it’s very hard to get a show on a national network. And PBS is an especially demanding provider. So, you went and you presented this, and actually have a national series on the PBS network.

 

You know, I actually wanted this to be part of the PBS family. Um, I wanted it to be part of your family here at PBS Hawaii, because it helps uh … it helps all of us. Um, and then, uh, and of course, on the national scene, I wanted um, it to be a calling card to everyone around the globe about who we are and what we profess.

 

At the time of this conversation in summer of 2016, Family Ingredients was set to premiere on PBS stations across the nation. Heather Haunani Giugni, who as a girl was exposed to racial discrimination and to multi-cultural harmony, set a table for all races, cultures and people. Family Ingredients is the stew of Heather’s life experiences in Washington DC and Hawaii, seasoned with her love for Hawaiian culture, and served in a bowl of her passion as a filmmaker. Mahalo to Heather Haunani Giugni of Aiea, for sharing your story with us. And thank you, for joining us. For PBS Hawaii and Long Story Short, I’m Leslie Wilcox. Aloha, a hui hou.

 

For audio and written transcripts of all episodes of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, visit PBSHawaii.org. To download free podcasts of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, go to the Apple iTunes store, or visit PBSHawaii.org.

 

I would tell young filmmakers to become a dentist. [CHUCKLE] Get that house, and then use those extra funds to build and create anything you want. I just—it’s a hard, hard road.

 

And do you love it?

 

I love it. I love it because it’s—uh, it’s uh, about my community, and that’s what I care about.

 

LONG STORY SHORT WITH LESLIE WILCOX
Senator Daniel K. Inouye

 

Original air date: Tues., May 13, 2008

 

The Distinguished Senior Senator from Hawaii

 

A very optimistic Daniel K. Inouye shares stories with Leslie Wilcox.

 

“At age 84? I would say that I expect interesting things to happen from now,” says Hawaii’s senior U.S. Senator.

 

Daniel K. Inouye Audio

 

Download the Transcript

 

Transcript

 

Aloha no. I’m Leslie Wilcox of PBS Hawaii. Mahalo for joining me for another LSS. Many people want the ear of Hawaii senior Senator Daniel Inouye. He’s one of the most powerful people on Capitol Hill, influencing policy and money decisions. I’d like to have a few words with him as well, but for a change, I don’t necessarily want to hear what he’s accomplished and or what he plans to do. I want to get a better sense of who he is.

 

Senator Daniel Inouye is 84 as I speak. And his objectives are different from most people his age. Still hard at work, he’s ambitious for Hawaii and for himself and he wants to climb to the next rung on the career ladder. At this taping, he’s looking to rise even higher in seniority and power in the Senate. And he’s eager to become a bridegroom on May 24, 2008. That’s his wedding date with Irene Hirano of Los Angeles. Our conversation begins with a story from 1959.

 

Ive tried to identify with what it was like when you went to Capitol Hill in ’59, representing Hawaii. And because I’ve just had a little taste of that since I’ve attended national conferences in this PBS job. When I say where I’m from, I see people’s eyes glaze over. In other words, you’re from this insignificant, isolated place, you don’t matter in the power grid, and they move on. Did that happen to you when hit The Hill? That was a lot longer ago.

 

Not exactly. As I said, I was lucky. I was in my office; this bare room, no books, all by myself, no secretary. And the phone rings. I pick it up; Hello. And the voice on the other end says, I can’t pronounce your name, but are you the new Congressman from Hawaiya? I said, Yes, sir. I’m the Speaker.

 

Sam Rayburn?

 

Yeah. He said, If you got free time, come around; I’d like to chat with you. I’ll be there, sir. Boom. I had no idea there was a tunnel or subway; I just got out. And this was in August; hot, hot, hot. I ran across the field, walked up the stairs. There he was. He took me on a tour of the House, told me where he sits, where I would very likely sit. Took me to a barber shop and said, We don’t pay these fellows enough, so tip ‘em 25 cents. This is the bank, this is all over the place. Then, we got back to his office. He’s sitting down, majestic, baldheaded. I’m on the other end. And he says, In this city, the President is the best known person. I said, Yes, sir. Next to the President is the Speaker of the House; that’s me. Next to me is you.

 

Hm?

 

I said, Sir? He said, Well, after all, there are not too many one-armed Japs around here. [chuckle]

 

And you didn’t get offended?

 

No, I didn’t get offended. And I said, Oh, thank you. So, he said, make the most of it. And he was very good to me.

 

So he said, emphasize your differences.

 

Yeah. I was on the table, the Texas table. So when I got in, I sat down with the …

 

Mhm.

 

The reason for this, very likely, was the fact that the 442 rescued the Lost Battalion, the Texas—

 

The National Guard guys

.

Yeah.

 

Wow. So that, that was it, the Lost—

 

See, everything—

 

Battalion connection.

 

–happens like that. And he was good to me.

 

Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn represented the state of Texas whose 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry Division – originally the Texas National Guard – became known as The Lost Battalion. During a storied World War II battle, 211 Texans were rescued from German bombardment in a forest in France. The rescuers were from the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and 100th Battalion which suffered terrible casualties reaching the Texans. The young Dan Inouye well remembers the day America was thrust into the war at Pearl Harbor.

 

When you were 17 years old, I think it was three months after you turned 17, you began to grow up in a very big way, because Pearl Harbor was attacked.

 

Yes. It was a difficult time. I can’t forget this moment. On the 7th, we were preparing to go to church; Sunday. And I’m getting myself groomed up with a necktie; once a week, I wear a tie. And I’m listening to music and the disc jockey is just saying, And next, we have this and this. All of a sudden, he started screaming. Pearl Harbor is being bombed? The Japs are bombing Pearl Harbor! It’s not an exercise, it’s not an ex—and kept on doing this. I thought it was some kind of Orson Welles job. So I went out on the street, looked towards Pearl Harbor, and poof-poof-poof. I ran in, said, Papa, come out here. He looked at that, and all of a sudden, three planes flew right overhead, returning from the run. Gray; red dots.

 

You knew right away what it was?

 

I knew that the world had come to an end; my world. At least, I thought so.

 

Whatd you do right after that?

 

Then, I got in the house, I undressed, put on my work clothes, because I was then a member of the civil defense aid station. And I knew very well that they’d be calling me, and I wanted to be ready. So instead of waiting, I took my bike and left. And told my parents if they call, tell them I’m on my way.

 

What was it like when you got there?

 

Well, when I got there, it was just chaotic. Because just prior to that, the anti-aircraft shells somehow landed in McCully. See, oftentimes, when they put the shells into the gun, you put a timer on so that it would explode at 1,500 feet or 2,000 feet, or 3,000 feet. In this case, somebody forgot to put the timer. So about six of ‘em landed in McCully, causing casualties; about ten died. And so I was very busy from the moment I got there. You know where McCully Chop Suey is; King and McCully? Across the street used to be a drugstore with a soda fountain and all that. Now, it’s some fancy restaurant there.

 

Oh, Chef Mavro’s.

 

That’s right. That’s where; boom-boom-boom, you know.

 

Im just wondering if you could channel back to your early childhood in Mo‘ili‘ili, living on Bingham Tract, and tell me what your life was like. What street did you live on?

 

Well first, I lived on Hausten Street; no longer exists. The house, if you will call it that, was located across The Willows.

 

Which is now a parking lot.

 

Yes. And I did go to The Willows, because The Willows had been owned by a couple, a very wealthy couple, with no children, and they went to St. Mary’s Mission, oh about three or four blocks down the road and adopted two twins, a pair. And I used to go to St. Mary’s Church, so I’d get invited there. The pool in The Willows is an artesian well. And we used to swim there all the time. Further down the street, there were taro patches; we called them pake patches; and get chased out all the time, because we’re going for the juicy shoots. It was a great life. Went to Washington Intermediate, and then McKinley High School. And war came along.

 

Its well-known that Senator Inouye joined the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, lost an arm fighting in the European Theatre, and became a decorated war hero. He received rehabilitation services far beyond what most of our Iraq War veterans are getting. And he had no doubt about the need for that World War.

 

It was a great experience. I would never give it up. As people ask me, Knowing what you know now, would you go back again? Absolutely. Many of us felt terrible that your neighbors might feel that we are unpatriotic, un-American. Because couple of weeks after the 7th, we were all declared to be enemy alien. And it was 4C. 4F is physically unfit; 4C is enemy alien. We had no idea about the internment camps in Hawaii. We just noted certain people disappeared, but we had no idea where they were headed for. But the bulk of us all remained in Hawaii and we petitioned the White House; Please let us serve. And finally, the first of 1943, Executive was issued, forming this regiment. And I’m happy to tell you that 85% of the eligible Japanese Americans in Hawaii volunteered.

 

And you became a segregated unit.

 

Yup. And I was then in my first semester in college; I was in the pre-med club, because I wanted to be a surgeon. And there were thirty-five members in the pre-med club; thirty-three volunteered. And by coincidence, all thirty-three were accepted; not one became a doctor. They were either wounded, killed, or something happened.

 

At the time you came back from the war, and you’d lost your right arm, did it hurt not to become a surgeon, or were you past that dream? Did you—

 

Oh, I was—

 

want to be a lawyer?

 

I was past that. It’s something psychological. The moment it happens, you know that’s out. And some in the system, I don’t know how to explain that, because I’m not a psychiatrist, but—

 

At what point did you decide, I’m not gonna be a surgeon, that’s out? What was that point?

 

The moment I was hit.

 

Ive read your commendation; the description of why you won the Medal of Honor, and you probably didn’t write it.

 

So I want to find out if what it says is really what resonates with you. For one thing, it says you acted with complete disregard for your personal safety. This is as you climbed up this treacherous slope, right by a German emplacement, took it down, and then got up in front of another one and I believe, destroyed that one too with grenades. But did you really act without any regard for your personal safety? Did that all go away?

 

I’ll be very honest with you. Well, there were at least a dozen people watching all of this, I’m certain. Call it what you may; maybe it’s temporary insanity. And when I look back, I say, No, I didn’t do those things. But I had my responsibilities as the platoon leader. And we had this code in the regiment; Don’t expect your men to go up if you’re not willing to go up. In the so-called book, the training book, it’s never led by the officer. Patrols go out. Scouts out, or something like that. The leader stays in the back. But in our code, as the boys you would say, You go first, buddy.

 

Dont ask anyone to do something—

 

Yeah.

 

youre not willing to do yourself.

 

[chuckle]

 

So do you have a clear recollection of what happened during that incident?

 

No. I remember few episodes. There were three machine guns; yes, I remember that. I went for the first, and lucky, the grenade went into the hole, and boom, three guys got knocked out. There was another one, and that one was a little troublesome, because one of the gunners stood up with his rifle, and he fired point-blank, boom.

 

Shattering your arm.

 

And that part, I remember very vividly. Because I knew I had the grenade in my hand.

 

In your right hand?

 

Yeah. See, I was not a lefty. In fact, my left hand is slightly crooked, as you can see. It was broken when I was young. And so here I am, scrambling, looking for the grenade. I figured it fell. No, it was clenched in my fist.

 

And you had no movement.

 

And so I pried it out, and threw it. It went right in; boom.

 

Did you feel pain at that point? Were you feeling the pain? Your commendation also says that even with your right arm shattered, you kept working; you made sure your troops were in defensive positions until you went for medical aid.

 

Well, actually, it was a little worse than that. Here, it was bleeding. K-k-k, k-k-k, you know; blood beat. I picked up my gun with my left hand and—it must have been a gruesome sight. Charging up the third one; that’s when I got hit in the leg, and I went rolling down. And when I got down there, I started putting on the tourniquet.

 

Do you think of—at that time—of dying, or just what you have to do?

 

I think duty and responsibility during the training period got imbued in you. I never thought that I’d be dead.

 

Because you’re very optimistic. I’ve heard you say you have never been discouraged.

 

That’s right.

 

Were you not discouraged when you lost your right arm, and you had had these dreams of being a surgeon?

 

That’s momentary.

 

You spent, what, twenty months, was it, in a hospital?

 

Twenty-two months.

 

Twenty-two months in a hospital, recovering.

 

They gave me something that I’m so sorry to say—the prison—the Iraqi veterans are not getting; rehab.

 

Youre talking about more than physical rehab?

 

Well, I got all the surgical work, the medical work. I got a prosthetic appliance; they showed me how to use it. But then, they had a whole bunch of volunteers, a very complex program. I had to pass a test on sports. Golf, I flunked; before I finished the third hole, I was ninety-two. So they said, Forget it.

 

[chuckle]

 

Swimming; that, you would think, What’s the big deal? I’m from Hawaii, Waikiki, I know how to swim. But then, it was not in the hospital pool; it was in a public lake. So I found myself on day one wrapped up with a towel.

 

Because you’re so cold?

 

No.

 

Why?

 

It’s human nature; you don’t want your ugliness to be shown—

 

Oh. I see.

 

–to the public. You, you see eyes piercing you, right? Second time I just draped it over my shoulder.

 

But you don’t use one in regular life now.

 

Because it’s so warm. And the prosthetic appliance I had, you had to put on a stump sock, they call it. Heavy, woolen, and then you shove it into that hole, and strap across here. You perspire all the time. And I figured, as long as I had the muscles here [chuckle], skip that.

 

So you got through that rehabilitation, just having a comprehensive experience.

 

Carpentry, electrical work, plumbing, dining. You know, dining is important. As the instructor said, A man prefers steaks; but you got one arm. And the whole class was just one arm. The odds are, you’re gonna bypass the steak because you don’t want to tell the waitress, Please cut it for me. And especially your girlfriend; you’re not gonna ask her, Please cut it for me. So you’re gonna deprive yourself. He says, No, I’m gonna teach you to have confidence. You tell the guy, Please cut it; or you tell your wife or your girlfriend, May I have it bite-sized? They’d be happy to do it. See? And uh, little things; even sex.

 

There was a course on that too?

 

Yeah. But uh, this is a home program. [chuckle]

 

So you left after twenty-two months feeling, I know how to handle myself. And—

 

I used to play the saxophone and clarinet, but that was out of the question. So the instructor said, Why don’t you try the piano.

 

I says, What, are you kidding me? He said, No, try it. I passed the test. My colleagues in the hospital gave me a standing ovation. [chuckle] The twenty-two months—those were glorious days, believe it or not.

 

Why?

 

They gave me confidence. I left the hospital full of hope; I can conquer the world.

 

So here you were, an older college student; you went to school on the GI Bill.

 

Yeah.

 

At what point did you decide, I want to be a lawyer now?

 

In the hospital.

 

In the hospital?

 

This may sound strange, but there were two patients; both of them became senators, all about the same time. Phil Hart, a building is named after him, Philip Hart Senate Office Building. I’m in that building. The other patient was Bob Dole, who became Republican leader. And I was the third one. Now, there’s a hospital named after all three of us in Battle Creek, Michigan; the hospital we served in. And Bob Dole had his arm shattered, internal injuries; he had been in a blast. And when I saw him, he says, Well, I’ll be going soon before you get out of here. What are your plans? And without batting an eye, he said, I’m going to become a county attorney. Oh. And when they open up some seat in the Legislature, I’m gonna run for that, get elected. ’59, Hawaii becomes a state; I get in, I get to the Congress. Bob Dole is not yet. I sent him a telegram; Bob, I’m here; where are you? [chuckle]

 

Dan Inouye beat Bob Dole to Washington. But he almost didn’t make it. And especially right now, he’d much rather look forward than look back.

 

At that point, you had a long life ahead of you. Tell me what your life ahead of you looks like right now, at age 84. At age 84 I would say that I expect interesting things to happen from now. Well, living with Irene will be interesting in and of itself, even if I weren’t in the Senate. But in the Senate, I’m number three.

 

In seniority.

 

And the odds are, someday I could be president pro tempore, which is something I’m not working for, because, although constitutionally you’re third in line for the presidency. But I’m one step away from the Appropriations Committee. So some day, I may very likely be the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, plus Defense Appropriations Committee. And right now, I was selected as Mr. Pig or Mr. Pork of the Year.

 

Which are now called earmarks in the—

 

Earmarks.

 

presidential campaign.

 

And I’m going to fight for it, because the constitution is very clear that the Congress plays a major role in establishing the budget.

 

And all of my programs are transparent, above board, monies for this. This is nothing crooked. I’ve had some that I had to explain. Now—

 

So the term earmark has become a bad word—

 

Oh, evil.

 

–on Capitol Hill. But it’s pork barrel spending, and uh, and you have brought a lot of that home to Hawaii.

 

If you call it that. East-West Center is earmark. The bridge to Ford Island; when I put that in there, they said, Oh, come on, Dan; what’s that for? It’s going into a desolate island. That’s why it’s going there. Now, you’re gonna have six hundred fifty family units, a thousand bachelor quarters, home for the special forces, centralized office of NOAA, National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration, we’ll have a regular home now for the Missouri. It’s going to be a busy island.

 

So you’re gonna continue with earmarks.

 

Absolutely.

 

I see.

 

And now, as chairman of Appropriations, I’m in better shape.

 

[Chuckle]

 

[Chuckle]

 

Senator Daniel Inouye also says he’s in great health and great spirits, anticipating marriage to Irene Hirano. He’ll share more about that next week as our Long Story Short continues. I’m Leslie Wilcox of PBS Hawaii. A hui hou kakou.

 

I see the chaplain moving around. He comes up to me, he says, Son, God loves you. And I said, Yes, I know God loves me; but I’m not ready to see Him yet. He looks at me, he says, You’re serious, aren’t you? I said, Absolutely; I’ve got a long life ahead of me. So he called the doctors; Come back. And he whispered a few things, and so they changed the notation. I was scheduled to be dead.