A public memorial service for Sen. Daniel Akaka is underway at the Hawaii State Capitol.
Akaka will lie in state in a closed casket in the rotunda from 10 a.m. Friday through 10 a.m. Saturday.
All day Friday, people lined up to pay their respects to the man who dedicated more than four decades of his life to public service.
He touched so many lives throughout that time. Even those who met him just briefly felt compelled to give thanks.
Elsie Yamashita met the senator 30 years ago. “He did exude aloha to everybody,” she said. “It doesn’t matter where you came from, who you were, what your nationality was. He was so warm.”
Nobody knows that warmth and aloha more than his children.
“It was always love. That’s how the Akaka family was growing up, just hugs, kisses, helping each other,” said his son, Alan Akaka.
With it came humility and always being grateful for what you have. He always told his children how he didn’t have shoes and would have to go to school in pants with holes in them.
“He told his mother, ‘I’m going to school in this?’ And she said, ‘Oh no, no. You should be happy it’s clean,'” said his daughter, Millannie Akaka Mattson.
Even though he’s better known as a congressman and a U.S. senator, he was a teacher before that, and to the family he was always teaching, especially when the kids were misbehaving.
“The look in his eyes of anger and that was it. There was no yelling. Never any cussing, swearing, never anything about how bad or terrible you were,” said his son, Dr. Gerard Akaka.
“He’d stay up late at night with me and go over it with me, and I know that he wasn’t happy at all times. He would get on my case but he stuck with me,” said his son, Danny Akaka Jr.
A formal program took place at 6 p.m. Friday.
Brief speeches were delivered by Gov. David Ige, former governors George Ariyoshi, John Waihee, Ben Cayetano, and Neil Abercrombie. Mattson will conclude the ceremony.
Free public parking is available after 4:30 p.m. Friday and all day Saturday int the City’s municipal lot, the Kalanimoku Building, and the State Department of Health.
Irreplaceable and one of a kind. That’s how many will remember former Senator Daniel Akaka.
Former Governor George Ariyoshi gave the eulogy and says Akaka’s caring spirit is why he encouraged him to run for congress.
“Some people were very much against it,” said Ariyoshi.”They told me oh he’s not vocal enough. He doesn’t talk enough. And I told them there at 435 congressman and one person cannot talk to everybody but one person like Dan Akaka can reach everybody make them feel. So that’s what he did.
Former leaders recalled his accomplishments such as his work toward the H3 freeway and instead of tears there were laughs.
“Gov. Ariyoshi wanted to have Danny be his LG,” said former Governor John Waiheee. “Instead he got stuck with me, hahaha. which as it all works out was good for everyone because we had a great senator from Hawaii. And I had a job.”
One woman who came to pay her respects tells us akaka helped her veteran husband
“I cam here because he exhibits aloha in every since of the word,” she said. “Compassionate, very giving. Never stopped following up on our kids after 21 years. He never stopped no.”
Many hope his legacy and his aloha will live on for generations to comes
“After a while what does it really mean?” asked former Gov. Neil Abercrombie. “He lived it and kindness and harmony and patience and courtesy. Those are things especialy in todays political are so needed.”
On Saturday, a celebration of life will take place at Kawaiahao Church. This event is open to the public. Visitation is at noon, and the service is at 2 p.m.