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At National Cathedral Memorial, Inouye's Last Moments Come into Focus

Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call
Inouye was honored in the Capitol Rotunda on Thursday, the day before a memorial was held at the National Cathederal.

As Washington bid final farewell to Sen. Daniel K. Inouye with a memorial service at Washington’s National Cathedral on Friday, a portrait emerged of the final moments of his life earlier this week.

While the list of those offering reflections included the current president and vice president, as well as a former president, the reflections from Senate Chaplain Barry C. Black offered the insight he gleaned from the Hawaii Democrat’s passing.

“I thought that Sen. Inouye was indestructible, and if I had not been honored to be at his bedside when he died, I still would not believe that he is gone. He was generous to the very end, for he gave me the great gift of instructive closure,” Black said.

That closure came through a remarkable final few minutes of life, explained Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

“Fifteen minutes before he passed, he shook the hands of friends and family who surrounded him. He thanked the doctors and nurses for their care and attention. He thanked his security detail for their careful protection over the years,” the Nevada Democrat said at the service. “He wrote notes detailing his last wishes, working until mere moments before his death.”

On Monday, it was revealed that one of those final requests was for Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie to appoint Democratic Rep. Colleen Hanabusa to fill out the remainder of Inouye’s term. Both Hanabusa and Sen.-elect Mazie K. Hirono, D-Hawaii, read from scripture at the ceremony.

Reid said that another request from Inouye was for the majority leader to speak at the service.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. both spoke, with the Hawaiian-born president recalling watching Inouye during the Watergate hearings from motel room TVs during a trip to tour the mainland. Obama conceded that, being only 11 years old at the time, he didn’t fully understand the situation, but said he noticed Inouye.

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