The world knew him as Democratic Senator Daniel K. Akaka, ambassador of Aloha. The first native Hawaiian to hold office in Congress, Akaka was that rare politician who actually cared about the people he served. Also of Chinese descent, the WWII vet and educator lived his life championing the rights of others, especially native Hawaiians, Asians, and Asian-Americans displaced by history.
But the Kamehameha grad was also a talented musician, able to play many instruments. He taught band in school early on and belonged to the musicians union.
Akaka passed away April 6 at age 93. His death made headlines in the New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Post, CNN, NBC.
He served the people, his people, with quiet dignity and compassion for 36 years in both the House of Representatives and then the Senate until his retirement in 2013.
Because of Akaka’s tireless efforts, the government finally apologized for the wrongful U.S. overthrow of Hawai’i with the 1993 Apology Resolution, awarded long overdue Medals of Honor to the Asian-American vets of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team/100th Infantry Battalion, and granted one-time benefits to members of the famous Philippine Scouts for their WWII service.
The B Side: For the Spring/Summer 2018 issue, Ke Ola O Na Mele