Pelosi Floor Remarks in Remembrance of Late Congressman Mark Takai

September 15, 2016
Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks today on the House floor in remembrance of late Congressman Mark Takai.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

“This is a beautiful picture of Mark.  Thank you, Congresswoman Gabbard, for bringing us together in this Special Order to salute a very special person, our colleague, Mark Takai.  It is a solemn privilege for all of us today to give voice to the sorrow of the U.S. Congress at the passing of our colleague and dear friend.  We've lost someone truly special, a person who held the respect and friendship of colleagues on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the Capitol, up and down Pennsylvania Avenue.

“In fact, the President himself paid tribute to Mark when he died, he said, ‘Michelle and I were saddened to learn of the passing of Representative Mark Takai.  Mark was always a fighter,’ the President said.  ‘It's a spirit he brought to more than two decades of public service on behalf of the people of Hawaii.  He stood up for America's most vulnerable, he championed our troops and veterans, and proudly wore our nation's uniform.  And his relentless push for cancer research inspired countless Americans fighting the same battle as he did.  Simply put,’ the President said, ‘our country is better off because of Mark’s  contributions.  He leaves a legacy of courage, of service, and of hope.’  Michelle and he said, ‘Our thoughts and prayers are with Mark's wife, Sami, their two children, and many friends and family.’  And many of the friends and family are here today: Sami, of course, Matthew and Kaila, his parents, Erik and Naomi, his sister Nadine, her husband Ronnie and daughter Nalani, and his sister Nikki, his brother Ross, his father-in-law Gary, and all of the people of Hawaii who may be watching this – certainly all of our colleagues.

“He was effective from the start, I think because he was such an experienced legislator – 20 years in the Hawaii Legislature.  And that made him, with his energy – and as our colleague Mr. Aguilar said – ‘his competitiveness.  Who but a competitive soul, and an imaginative one, would be bringing lei to Selma to match what happened in the 1960s when Martin Luther King and our colleague, John Lewis, wore lei in a march?  And who but he would, only a few weeks in Congress, decide that all these hundreds of lei would be sent from Hawaii for people to wear on the 50th Anniversary of Selma?  As I said yesterday in Statuary Hall, many other Members were thinking, ‘Why didn't I think of that?’  But that's how Mark was.  I don't want to say ‘competitive,’ but nonetheless, as far as his seating here, Mr. Aguilar, I was privileged to appoint him as part of the Escort Committee because of the President's origins in Hawaii.  I wanted that to be represented on the Escort Committee, but as you said: he exploited the opportunity.  And we were glad that he did.

“I really wish that – I wish that he were here – but I wish that everyone could have seen him on our CODEL to Asia.  Congresswoman Matsui did and others – Congressman.  We were in Burma, Cambodia, Korea, Japan, Vietnam.  We began in California, came to Hawaii to be briefed to the Pacific Command, to go on to Asia and then come back through Alaska.  Now, here he was, a relatively new Member of Congress, this was like April of last year, he was in Congress maybe three, four months, but he was on the Armed Services Committee.  So he spoke with great authority because this was a security trip as well as a values, human rights trip and our economic interest trip.

“So I said to him – getting back to Mr. Aguilar – I said to him, ‘You know, we're going to begin in California with some briefings and then we'll go to Hawaii and you’ll preside as we meet with the Pacific Command.  Would you like to join us in California?’  He said, ‘Would I like to join you in California?  I could be home with Sami.  I could have a night with Sami or I could be with all of you in California.  I'll meet you in Hawaii.’  It was very clear that any chance he got, he wanted to be with his family and certainly he, again, was part of the Delegation, only a few months in Congress with such dignity we forgot that he was only a new Member of Congress with great knowledge of our national security, with great diplomacy on how he conveyed his thoughts.  And every place he went, he was beautifully received.  I wish you could have all seen that, especially in Japan, where they took special interest to embrace him as a Japanese American Member of Congress.

“But everything he did, he did with excellence.  He died as he had lived, loved and surrounded by family and friends.  With great dignity and great courage, he used his time well – used his time well – and again, understood the opportunity that serving in Congress was and he made an honorable contribution.  His service here brought luster to the Congress.  It was a privilege to call him colleague for all of us, and even bigger privilege to call him friend.  And in the Hawaiian way of family, he has bound us together.  We are all family and I hope that the Takai family knows that they have family always in the Congress of the United States.  With that, I yield back to Ms. Gabbard.  Thank you."