It goes without saying that the death of 49-year-old U.S. Congressional Representative Mark Takai, D–Hawaii, on July 20 due to pancreatic cancer was very sad. Takai was a solid legislator and a great person.
On the morning of Sept. 15, the U.S. House of Representatives held a Special Order of speeches for Takai (many members, according to a news release from Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s office sent out that day, also wore aloha wear).
“In Hawaiʻi, the word aloha holds a very special place in our hearts. It’s a word we use every single day to say hello and goodbye, but in saying that word, we’re actually conveying a much deeper meaning,” Gabbard said in her speech. “In the deepest and truest sense of the word, aloha means I come to you with an open heart and offer you my deepest respect, love and care… This open heart–this spirit of aloha–is what I think of when I think of my colleague, my fellow soldier, and my friend, Mark Takai, because he carried this aloha spirit with him wherever he went. He shared it with everyone that he came into contact with.”
But according to her remarks that morning, Gabbard also shared a funny story I had never heard before about Takai’s military career, which actually dovetailed with Gabbard’s some years ago (when he died, Takai was a lieutenant colonel in the Hawaii Army National Guard; Gabbard is currently a major in the same branch).
““Because Mark had a Master’s degree in Public Health, he came into the National Guard as a direct commissioned officer,” Gabbard said in her speech. “What this meant in practical terms was that he didn’t have to go through Basic Combat Training or Officer Candidate School (OCS). When I came back to Hawaii from my Basic Training in South Carolina, I was assigned to a Medical Command, the same unit as Mark. He was a First Lieutenant and I was a Private First Class. As I was rendering him a salute, he would joke around asking me to teach him how to render a proper salute and how to march in a formation because he never got to learn those through Basic Training.”
I can’t think of a better anecdote that illustrates Takai’s chill spirit and confidence.
Here’s complete video of the Special Order that honored Rep. Takai:
Photo of Rep. Mark Takai: US Congress/Wikimedia Commons