A moving ‘Celebration of Life’ for Senator Daniel Akaka

Posted on May 30, 2018 in Featured

The Hawai’i National Guard stood watch as the late Sen. Akaka lay in state in the Capitol rotunda.

Music soared through the Capitol rotunda May 18 as hundreds of civic leaders and ordinary citizens paid tribute to the beloved late U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka. The ceremonies began with a morning processional at the state Capitol and continued into the evening with a prayer service and the following day with a celebration of life at Kawaiaha‘o Church.

Speaker after speaker at the services described the former senator as a man of humility and integrity, who devoted his life to serving his state and the nation. “He was definitely someone who lived his values and embodied aloha,” said Governor Ige in an earlier interview. “In spite of how partisan Congress became during his last term in office and while he was trying to get the Akaka bill passed, I never heard him disparage anyone. He had tremendous power in his aloha.”

Governor Ige and the first lady greet Danny Akaka, Jr. and family members.

The 10 a.m. Capitol ceremony, even with all its pomp and circumstance, still felt like a family affair with hugs and tears. The senator’s widow, Mildred “Millie” Akaka, their son, daughter and grandchildren greeted the stream of visitors who came to pay their respects, while the Royal Hawaiian Band and students from Kamehameha Schools, along with other musicians, performed some of the senator’s favorite songs during the 24 hours the senator lay in state in the Capitol rotunda.

At the evening service, Governor Ige said Mrs. Akaka had told him the senator wouldn’t have wanted such an elaborate event. “But Auntie Millie, I just want you to know this was probably one of the easiest things I’ve had to do because everyone — everyone — wanted to do something on behalf of Uncle Danny,” the governor said.

Read more in June’s Capitol Connection newsletter