FAREWELL TO THE SENATE; Congressional Record Vol. 158, No. 160
(Senate - December 12, 2012)

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[Pages S7765-S7766]
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                         FAREWELL TO THE SENATE

  Mr. AKAKA. Madam President, I rise to give my remarks and my aloha to 
the U.S. Senate.
  Before I begin, I would like to take a moment to wish my good friend, 
my colleague of 36 years, my brother, Dan

[[Page S7766]]

Inouye, Hawaii's senior Senator, a speedy recovery and return to the 
Senate.
  I rise today to say aloha to this institution. I have been honored to 
be a Member of the U.S. Senate for 22 years. It has been an incredible 
journey that I never imagined.

  As a senior in high school going to Kamehameha School for Boys, which 
was noted as a military school, my life was changed forever when I saw 
Japanese fighter planes attacking Pearl Harbor. Like most men in my 
generation, I joined the war effort. My path was forever altered.
  When the war ended, I believe I was suffering from PTSD. It was an 
act of Congress that allowed me, and the veterans of my generation, to 
build a successful new life. Congress passed the GI bill, and I say 
with certainty that I would not be standing before you today without 
the opportunity the GI bill gave me, not only to get an education but 
to have structure and a path forward--and the feeling that there was a 
way for me to help people. This proved to me that when Congress acts 
responsibly, it can build a better America.
  That is why, when I was blessed with the opportunity to lead the 
Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, I dedicated myself to helping 
our servicemembers and veterans and their families, and worked with my 
colleagues to expand VA services and pass a new 21st-century GI bill.
  So I want to take this moment to urge all of my colleagues and all of 
the incoming Senators and Representatives to do everything they can for 
our veterans and their families because we ask them to sacrifice so 
much for us. They put their lives on the line while their wives and 
husbands watch over their families. Caring for them is one of our most 
sacred obligations as a nation.
  Not everyone on the front lines making our Nation stronger wears a 
uniform. In many critical fields the Federal Government struggles to 
compete with the private sector to recruit and retain the skilled 
people our Nation needs: experts in cyber security and intelligence 
analysis, doctors and nurses to care for our wounded warriors, and 
accountants to protect taxpayers during billion-dollar defense 
acquisitions. These are just a few examples. After I leave the Senate, 
it is my hope other Members will continue to focus on making the 
Federal Government an employer of choice. We need the best and 
brightest working for our Nation.
  The work of the Congress will never end, but careers come to a close. 
Like the great men whose names are etched in this desk, I am humbled to 
know I have left my mark on this institution. I am proud to be the 
first Native Hawaiian ever to serve in the Senate, just as I am so 
proud to be one of the three U.S. Army World War II veterans who remain 
in the Senate today.
  The United States is a great country. One of the things that makes us 
so great is that though we have made mistakes, we change, we correct 
them, we right past wrongs. It is our responsibility as a nation to do 
right by America's native people, those who exercised sovereignty on 
lands that later became part of the United States. While we can never 
change the past, we have the power to change the future.
  Throughout my career I have worked to ensure that my colleagues 
understand the Federal relationship with native peoples and its origins 
in the Constitution. The U.S. policy of supporting self-determination 
and self-governance for indigenous peoples leads to native self-
sufficiency, resulting in our continued ability to be productive and to 
contribute to the well-being of our families, our communities, and our 
great Nation. That is why I worked to secure parity in Federal policy 
for my people--the Native Hawaiians.
  The United States has recognized hundreds of Alaska Native and 
American Indian communities. It is long past time for the Native 
Hawaiian people to have the same rights, same privileges, and same 
opportunities as every other federally recognized native people.
  For more than 12 years now, I have worked with the Native Hawaiian 
community and many others to develop the Native Hawaiian 
Reauthorization Act, which has the strong support of Hawaii's 
Legislature and Governor as the best path forward toward 
reconciliation.
  My bill has encountered many challenges, but it is pono--it is 
right--and it is long overdue. Although I will not be the bill's 
sponsor in the 113th Congress, it will forever bear my highest 
aspirations and heartfelt commitment to the Native Hawaiian people, the 
State of Hawaii, and the United States of America.
  I know I am just one in a long line working to ensure that our 
language, our culture, and our people continue to thrive for 
generations to come. I believe Hawaii has so much to teach the world 
and this institution. In Congress and in our Nation, we are truly all 
together, in the same canoe. If we paddle together in unison, we can 
travel great distances. If the two sides of the canoe paddle in 
opposite directions, we will only go in circles.
  I urge my colleagues to take this traditional Hawaiian symbol to 
heart and put the American people first--by working together.
  I want to say mahalo nui loa--thank you very much--to my incredible 
staff. After 36 years there are far too many individuals to name, so I 
will just thank all of my current and former staff members in my Senate 
and House offices and on my committees, including Indian Affairs, 
Veterans' Affairs, and the Subcommittees on Oversight of Government 
Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia.
  I want to thank the hundreds of employees who work for the Architect 
of the Capitol and the Sergeant-at-Arms. Without the hard work they do 
every day, we could not do what we do in the Senate. Mahalo. Thank you 
to the floor and leadership staff as well.
  I also want to thank Senate Chaplain Barry Black, who has provided me 
so much guidance and strength and has done more to bring the two sides 
of the Chamber together and find common ground than just about anyone. 
I want to thank our colleagues who join together every week for the 
Prayer Breakfast and Bible study as well. All of these have helped to 
shape me and the things I do here.
  There is no one I owe more to than my lovely wife of 65 years, 
Millie. She is literally there for me whenever I need her. Nearly every 
day that I have served in the Senate for the past 22 years, Millie has 
come to the office with me. She helps me greet constituents, she makes 
me lunch, she keeps me focused, and she makes sure I know what is 
happening back home. She means the world to me. Every honor I have 
received belongs to her and to my family, my children, my 
grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. This speech is their farewell 
speech too. So mahalo, Millie and my ohana, my family.
  In life there are seasons. While leaving Congress is bittersweet, I 
am looking forward to spending more time with our five children and 
getting to know our 15 great-grandchildren, and--can you believe this--
we are expecting our 16th great-grandchild next year, and I will be 
home to see it.
  I am looking forward to speaking with students and mentoring up and 
coming leaders and visiting places in Hawaii that I have worked for 
over my career. My goal was to bring the spirit of aloha to our 
Nation's Capital in everything I do. In Hawaii, we look out for one 
another, we work together, and we treat each other with respect. I hope 
I succeeded in sharing a little bit of Hawaii with all of you.
  As I come to the end of 22 years in this Chamber, and a total of 36 
years serving in Congress, I offer my profound gratitude and humble 
thanks to the people of Hawaii for giving me the opportunity to serve 
them for so many years. It truly was an experience of a lifetime. All I 
ever wanted was to be able to help people, and you gave me that 
opportunity. So mahalo nui loa. Thank you very much.
  In Hawaii, when we part, we don't say goodbye. Instead, we say a hui 
hou, which means until we meet again.
  Although I am retiring, I see this as the start of a new chapter, a 
new season. And I am blessed to have made friendships and partnerships 
that will last forever.
  God bless Hawaii, and God bless the United States of America with the 
spirit of aloha. A hui hou.
  Madam President, I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Indiana.

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