AAA-Fund Honors Solons Akaka, Honda
Washington–U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Akaka (D, HI), 86, who announced last March 2 that he is retiring next year, recently received a Lifetime of Public Service Award from the Asian American Action Fund (AAA-Fund).
Senator Akaka expressed humility at receiving the award. Looking around the crowded room of achievers, future leaders and supporters, he said, “The credit belongs to all of you.”
The ceremony took place at AAA-Fund’s annual reception on April 5 in this nation’s capital. AAA-Fund, a Democratic political action committee based here, also honored U.S. Rep. and its Honorary Board president Mike Honda (D, CA) with a “Michael Honda Fellowship.”
AAA-Fund Deputy Executive Director Melissa Unemori Hampe, Akaka’s former Legislative Director, traced his distinguished career and presented him with the award. Board Member Irene Bueno presented Honda with the fellowship plaque.
Akaka was elected to the U.S. House in 1976, and served as congressman until early 1990, when he was appointed to the Senate with the demise of Sen. Spark Matsunaga. He won that November to complete the term. Since then, he has won reelection each time, even posting 70 per cent of the vote.
In 2009, as chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, he led the move, with his fellow U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (HI), to obtain equity pension for Filipino World War II veterans. Ms. Bueno announced Inouye had dropped by the DNC headquarters before the event.
Both Akaka and Honda heaped praises on former U.S. Commerce and also Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta. Mineta served as congressman from California for two decades. He led the legislative move to make the month of May Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and founded the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), among other things.
Mineta, standing by the door throughout the program, jokingly said, “I’m the doorman,” prompting Honda to comment how, over the years, Mineta has kept opening doors of opportunities to many Asian Americans.
U.S. Rep. Judy Chu (CA) was recognized as the new CAPAC Chair. AAA-Fund also welcomed newly-elected Representatives Hansen Clarke (MI) and Colleen Hanabusa (HI). Emmy Award-winning reporter and anchor Joie Chen emceed the event.
An auction followed the program. Funds were also raised for Direct Relief International’s Japanese relief efforts. Event Coordinator Lida Peterson later said in an interview she had “$1,080 in cash and check,” adding others “decided to give online.”
Host Committee Members included Yeni Wong, Bel Leong-Hong, Ms. Bueno, Ms. Hampe, John Tagami, Gautam Dutta, Marybelle Ang, Ami Bera, Junelle Cavero, Caroline Fan, Tom Goldstein, Mel Chiogioji, Texas Rep. Hubert Vo, Nasima Hossain, Gloria Caoile, Howard Moon, Bruce Chen, Roberto Llames, Jacqueline Wong, AAA-Fund of Greater Chicago, Sheela Modin, Miki Hanada, Sam Yoon and AAA Group.