HONOLULU – A new exhibit entitled “Celebrating Our Local Heroes” was dedicated today at the Honolulu International Airport honoring the late US Senator Daniel K. Inouye and the late Hawaii sports legend Wally Yonamine. Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui joined Mrs. Irene Hirano-Inouye, widow of Senator Inouye, and Mr. Paul Yonamine, son of Mr. Yonamine, to unveil the new exhibits that celebrate the contributions of both men to Hawaii’s history.
“What better place to have this exhibit than at the Honolulu International Airport, the gateway to the Pacific, where we are able to share the remarkable stories of the late Sen. Daniel Inouye and the late Wally Yonamine with not only our residents but with people from all over the world,” said Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui. “Both these heroes faced discrimination and great adversity during their distinguished careers, but they never lost touch with where they came from – our great State of Hawaii.”
The display featuring the illustrious accomplishments of the late US Senator Daniel K. Inouye contains photos, memorabilia and narratives highlighting Sen. Inouye’s distinguished military and political careers. As a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, he was awarded the Medal of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (posthumously). He served for nearly 50 years as Hawaii’s Senator and as the President Pro Tempore of the US Senate from 2010 until his death in 2012, making him the highest-ranking Asian-American politician in US history.
The display featuring the remarkable achievements of the late Wally Yonamine, the first American to play professional baseball in Japan after WWII, also uses photos, memorabilia and narratives to highlight his proud career in sports. The Hawaii-born son of Japanese parents, Yonamine overcame post-war prejudice against the US and became a beloved player for many Japanese fans. A three-time batting champion, he became an accomplished athlete in two sports and in two countries. As a speedy running back, he signed with the San Francisco 49ers of the All-America Football Conference. The 49ers, which joined the NFL in 1950, proudly hold that Yonamine was the first Asian-American to play professional football.