It was about remembering the past, learning about a man who served Hawaii so well, and passing on his spirit.
"They weren't that excited to wake up that early in the morning," said Joyce Brubaker, knowing it was important for her family, all three generations, to be at the National Memorial Cemetery at Punchbowl.
For her son Chris, its significance was already soaking in.
"It's kind of awesome that I get to go the funeral of this guy who did so much for everyone," said Chris.
As the cannons blasted, and the crowd of camera-filled arms went up, came the casket, so close, it was within inches of the people he served for most of his life.
"We were raised together and had a lot of fun together," said Michael Inouye, who is Inouye's cousin.
"There are a lot of memories that I can never forget," he said.
"Why was it so important for you to be here today?" asked KITV reporter Lara Yamada.
"Respect," answered Bob Segal, a Korean War veteran.
"I was in combat in Korea, he was in World War II so we are brothers and we walk the same line," he said.
"We will never know how much he's done until people have to read about it," said Alohanani Jamias. For her it meant welcoming the senator to his final resting place, not far from her parents lie too.
"All I've known is him being in Congress and the absence of him being there will be a big loss, so 'aloha' from all of us," she said.
It is the kind of farewell that comes from Hawaii and its people, for a man who will forever be, more than just a memory.
"I think maybe five years from now, 10 years from now, they'll appreciate it that they came," said Brubaker.