The late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye was honored posthumously with the Presidential Medal of Freedom Wednesday.
The Medal of Freedom is the nation's highest civilian honor.
Inouye was the first Japanese American to serve in Congress, and represented Hawaii since statehood.
The late senator was one of 16 people to receive the honor, which included former President Bill Clinton, iconic talk show host Oprah Winfrey and the late astronaut Sally Ride.
"We salute public servants who’ve strengthened our nation. Daniel Inouye was a humble man and didn’t wear his Medal of Honor very often. Instead, he liked to wear a pin representing the Good Conduct Medal he earned as a teenage private," said President Barack Obama, who was born and raised in Hawaii. "'To behave yourself takes special effort,' he said, 'and I did not want to dishonor my family.' Danny always honored his family and his country, even when his country didn’t always honor him."
Pres. Obama continued, "After being classified as an 'enemy alien,' Danny joined a Japanese American unit that became one of the most decorated in World War II. And as the second-longest serving senator in American history, he showed a generation of young people -- including one kid with a funny name growing up in Hawaii who noticed that there was somebody during some of those hearings in Washington that didn't look like everybody else, which meant maybe I had a chance to do something important, too. He taught all of us that no matter what you look like or where you come from, this country has a place for everybody who’s willing to serve and work hard."