When I was a kid growing up in the early 70s, politics were important. In my family, we talked about the Vietnam conflict, and the adults had conflicted feelings, so far as I could tell. My family talked about the election of 1972, the adults split politically, and then the aftermath of Watergate; no one split politically on that. I remember watching news bits on the hearings, and wondering about Senator Inouye.
Other than George Takei on Star Trek reruns, he was the first Asian American I was aware of as a national figure (there still aren't many, are there? Hmm.).
And being a kid, I had questions, about his race, his arm, but my parents explained respectfully what was appropriate, and we watched, and he seemed a reasonable, smart man, a senator who was trying to figure out what happened and what he (as a citizen and a senator) should do.
And so, since I became politically aware, he's been in the Senate, often quiet, but one of those senators who, for me, was someone I respected and listened carefully to when I heard him speak on TV. I sort of counted on him being there, being smart and reasonable, and knowing more about political things than I ever will.
Thank you, Senator Inouye, and rest in peace, sir.