Since retiring from the Senate, Daniel Akaka has largely stayed out of the public eye. However, he issued a statement today mourning the passing of former colleague, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, with whom he served for over three decades.

Akaka called him “a man of honor, a thoughtful and hard working American who changed our nation for the better.”

Akaka said he called Lautenberg’s wife to offer condolences. He noted that Lautenberg had also served in World War II and like he, had benefitted from the G.I. BIll.

“As a fellow World War II veteran, I always knew I could count on Frank to fight for our servicemembers and veterans,” Akaka said.  “We worked together to ensure our troops had the equipment and training they needed to meet any crisis our country might face, and to improve treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other invisible wounds of war.

And Akaka noted that Lautenberg’s passing marked the end of an era. “Though I knew this day would come, it is sad to know that there are no longer any World War II veterans in the U.S. Senate.  We have reached the season when younger generations must carry our country forward.  I hope that today’s politicians will learn from our era, when our love of country and our shared experience sacrificing to defeat tyranny trumped our personal ideology and ambition, and find a way to work together to strengthen our nation and put the American people first.”

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— Kery Murakami