Sen. Inouye's 1968 speech at Dem Convention was look at future

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Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy had been assassinated. Urban rioters had burned neighborhoods in cities across America. Many young people, angry and disillusioned about the Vietnam War, were in rebellion.

When U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye took the stage to give the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968, he was speaking to a nation in turmoil. The Hawai'i Democrat was the choice of the establishment, of President Lyndon B. Johnson and the old order, but as a Japanese-American and a decorated war hero, he was also a symbol of what the party might look like in the future.

"This is my country," Inouye said that summer night. "Many of us have fought hard for the right to say that. Many are now struggling today from Harlem to Da Nang that they may say this with conviction.

"This is our country."...

In an interview this month, Inouye, 83, recalled how he had been moved by protesters in Paris who had cut down 100-year-old trees for makeshift street barricades. He remembered the contrasts in Chicago between the priests and nuns who knelt in prayer for peace and the agitators who lobbed bags of feces at police.

"I was trying to use that, in suggesting to my fellow Americans, let's not cut down too many trees. We might never be able to replace them," he said.

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