By OSKAR GARCIA
HONOLULU — The late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye was praised as a humble leader who embodied honor, dignity and duty during a public visitation at Hawaii’s state Capitol.
Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie told hundreds of people gathered Saturday night that Inouye went from being considered undesirable as a Japanese-American at the start of World War II to gaining the respect of the country’s leaders in Washington.
Abercrombie’s remarks toward the end of an hourlong ceremony marked the start of seven hours of public visitation.
His casket, covered with an American flag, was escorted in by seven pallbearers and placed in a large tent as people lined up outside to pay their respects.
Mourners, well-wishers and those simply paying respects crowded the state Capitol on Saturday night, where Inouye will lie in state one day after being eulogized by President Barack Obama.
Obama said during a service at Washington’s National Cathedral that Inouye’s presence during the Watergate hearings helped show him what could be possible in his own life.
The 88-year-old World War II hero and federal lawmaker of more than five decades died Monday.
A public visitation was to be held for seven hours following the arrival of Inouye’s casket and short ceremony.
Others who have lain in state at the Capitol include Sen. Hiram Fong in 2004 and singer Israel Kamakawiwoole.
Instead of flowers, Inouye’s family is requesting contributions to the Daniel K. Inouye fund in care of the Hawaii Community Foundation.
Visitors began signing condolence books at the governor’s office on Friday, with additional books available at the Saturday service.
The service crowded downtown Honolulu one day before final services for Inouye will be held at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Obama plans to attend today’s ceremony, White House officials said on Saturday.
Inouye, who lost his right arm in a battle with Germans in Italy in World War II, was the first Japanese-American elected to the Senate.
He became known as a solo economic power in his home state as part of the Senate Appropriations Committee, where he steered federal money toward Hawaii to build roads, schools and housing.
Colleagues and aides lined the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol on Thursday to bid aloha to Inouye during a rare ceremony to demonstrate the respect he earned over decades.