Ask Not

It’s a shame to lose Hawaii Senator Daniel Inoyue in the wake of a national tragedy. Inoyue was  on his way to church with his family when Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941. He could see it from his house. Shortly thereafter, the United States government interned more than 120,000 Japanese Americans, taking from them their property and their livelihoods. In virtually any society in the world, this would have created 120,000 enemies of the state. Would you ever fly your country’s flag if they had removed you from your home and neighbors, without cause, and labeled you a foreign traitor even though you were as American as they were? Surely Daniel Inoyue and his peers should have disavowed any remaining loyalty to the United States. The strangest thing is, however, they didn’t. They petitioned the United States government to lift the ban against Japanese Americans serving in the military. He volunteered for combat and became an officer. The nearly all Japanese American 442nd regimental combat team was one of the most decorated in US military history. Inoyue himself was awarded the Medal of Honor, the Purple Heart, and the Bronze Star. So instead of resenting and demeaning their country for the rest of their lives, they fought and died to preserve its betrayed ideal? That’s a national gift. They redeemed our national pride when they could have let it tarnish. They answered in action. years before President Kennedy could famously request, “ask, not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” .The real shame of losing Senator Inoyue now is losing a leader who lived by that principle more than anyone at a time when we need him as much as ever.