Yesterday came the news I've been dreading, but was hoping might never arrive. Congressman K. Mark Takai lost his final fight, a battle with pancreatic cancer.
I am devastated. He was not only a client, but one of the rare people in public life who actually showed political courage to do the right thing when literally not one of his colleagues had the guts to join him. He was one of the plaintiffs in the Hawaii reapportionment case, something we got a lot of behind-the-scenes attaboys about from his fellow politicians, but only Takai signed on the dotted line.
This was the litigation spurred by the fact that Hawaii does not count resident active duty military members and their families in its reapportionment population. Yes, we gladly accept the billions of dollars which their presence inject into the Hawaii economy, but count them as "residents" who are represented in the Hawaii legislature? No way. "They" don't belong as part of "us." Or so we were told.
Mark was willing to go against the grain and take on the political orthodoxy -- who reminded us constantly that our lawsuit was not welcome, and was not being looked upon favorably -- at great risk to his political fortune. Why? Because, as he told me, it offended him that a state which benefits so much from the military's presence treats its servicemembers and their families who give up so much to serve their nation, as political nobodies.
And this was before he went to Congress. After he got there, he kept on pressing, promising me that he was doing everything in his power to get this changed. I don't take most politicians' promises seriously, but I did his.
But more important than any of that, he was a good man: citizen-soldier, veteran, a strong and devoted family man, and someone who never forgot his humble roots. A guy who would meet your eye and remember you, even if his position and the station he had achieved meant he was in the closed circles of power, and really didn't need to anymore.
So please forgive me if it takes a few days to get back to life, as we all must. I don't really understand why a person so young at only 49, so solid, so ... decent, would be taken from us now. There must be some greater plan. But if there is, it's beyond me at the moment.
Including a video of a movie is trite. But this scene has always gotten to me. More so after I listened to an Army bugler play Taps for my father at Punchbowl.
Those haunting notes will now echo for K. Mark Takai.
Day is done...
Gone the sun...
Rest in peace
Sol jer brave
God is nigh...
I miss him already.