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Wednesday, December 12, 2012


It's a bit unnerving for me, but three of our greatest leaders are being hospitalized for similar ailments related to their lungs.  Pearl passed away from a pulmonary disorder (PD).  Two of my closest friends recently departed, and I don't want to even suggest a eulogy, so I'll be brief about these three and only wish them well.

Nelson Rolihiahia Mandela, 94, the George Washington (who, also died of a PD)  of South Africa, has been hospitalized of a lung infection.  He spent 27 years of his life in a prison.  He won the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize and was President of his country for five years.

George Herbert Walker Bush, 88, our 41st President, is in a Houston hospital for bronchitis.  He became the youngest Naval aviator and made a parachute jump three years ago on his 85th birthday.  His father was U.S. Senator Prescott Bush.  H.W. became an oil millionaire at 40 and was elected to Congress in 1967, the same year as Spark Matsunaga.  This friendship carried on nearly a quarter century later when Sparky, then a Democrat Senator, personally visited Bush, the Republican President, to ask him to please approve the Matsunaga Hydrogen Act.  PL 101-566 was immediately signed into law.

U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, 88, is in Walter Reed for a breathing difficulty.  As chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and #3 in the Presidential succession line, he is the most powerful member of the U.S. Congress.  He shakes your right hand with his left.  He lost his right in World War II and only rather recently (2000) was awarded the Medal of Honor.  I recall many meetings with him in his office, where we never really talked about the political matter on my mind.  At the very end I said what I had to and his staff member almost always delivered.  On 29June2014 he will become the longest-serving U.S. Senator.

Let me end with another 88-year old U.S. Senator, Dan Akaka, who today gave his farewell address.  He is a dear friend and Pearl worked for him for a number of years.  He looked fabulous, and with his gray shock of hair, looked a quarter century younger.  He introduced me a couple of times when I testified before the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served on the Appropriations Committee.  He brought the ALOHA spirit to the U.S. Senate.  Here he is today on the Senate Floor.


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