Without question, U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, a Japanese-American, ranks as one of this country’s greatest heroes. He died Dec. 17 at age 88. His service to this country was extraordinary.

He set out to prove his allegiance to this country right after Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese and this country entered World War II. As an officer, he fought in Italy with a Japanese-American unit. He was seriously wounded, lost an arm, and for his heroic actions against the Germans, he was awarded the Medal of Honor, America’s highest award for valor.

Representing his home state of Hawaii, in the U.S. House and Senate, he was the longest serving senator — 50 years. He displayed his leadership skills in the Watergate and Iran-Contra investigations and served on key Senate committees. He was chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.

In 2000, when then-President Bill Clinton belatedly presented Sen. Inouye with the Medal of Honor, he related that Inouye’s father believed their family owed an unrepayable debt to America. Here’s what the president said: “If I may say so, sir, more than a half century later, America owes an unrepayable debt to you and your colleagues.”

We’ve lost a genuine hero!