Early Life

Facing Internment

Starting Internment

Heart Mountain Internment Camp

Life at Heart Mountion

War's End

Starting Over

Military Service

Postwar Japan

Post MIlitary Career

Redressing Internment

Secretary of Transportation

9-11 Terrorist Attacks

Reaction to the 9-11 Terror Attacks

Reflections

Annotation

Norman Mineta was born in 1931 in San Jose, California. He had a great childhood in the agricultural community. His father entered the country by himself from Japan when he was 15 years old. He worked for a sugar company in Salinas and then went to San Jose to start a new sugar beet operation. There was a serious worldwide epidemic of Spanish influenza in 1917 and 1918. His father had an extensive hospital stay as a result. After recovery, the doctors told him that he could not have a stressful job. He went to work in various odd jobs. The uncle who had taken him in after his arrival insisted that his nephew learn English. At 16 years old, Mineta's father entered the first grade. Feeling humiliated that the other much younger students were about as tall as he was; Mineta's father was incentivized to learn English. By the second grade, he felt he had learned enough and graduated himself. He was 17 years old by then and was hired by the sugar company. One of his odd jobs was as a court reporter. A man came up to him and offered to teach him about the life insurance business. In about 1919, he decided to go into the life insurance business. Starting as an agent in 1920, the business would be a lifetime career for him. His son, Norman, joined in the insurance business after discharge from the military following the Korean War. The north side of San Jose held the Asian-American community that Mineta grew up in. It was called Japan Town. It was integrated with Italian-Americans living all around. It was a great experience. His best friend was Ray Revelo [Annotator's Note: unsure of spelling]. They ate at each other's home. His friend had a Model A that he shuttled Mineta and others to and from school. The community was highly integrated. Mineta was a Cub Scout. Mineta's family had left his home in Shizuoka prefecture in Japan to journey to the United States. The family home was about 80 miles south of Tokyo in a town called Mishima. Mineta's mother and dad were the only ones from the family that immigrated to the United States. While on military duty in Korea in 1954, Mineta went to Japan to visit his family relatives. The relatives laughed at the Japanese language Mineta used. It was the Japanese terminology that had been taught by Mineta's parents to their children. The terms were 50 years old and somewhat outdated compared to the vernacular used in Japan in 1954. During President Clinton's [Annotator's Note: President William J. Clinton] time, the Emperor of Japan visited. Then Congressman Mineta was introduced to the Emperor. Mineta spoke to the royalty in both English and Japanese. The President did not know that Mineta spoke Japanese. Mineta told Clinton that he did not know how the Emperor would react to his somewhat dated style of the language. The next morning, the Emperor and Empress requested that Mineta accompany them on a visit to the Freer Art Gallery. Mineta was pleased with the invitation and accompanied them. Mineta wondered if the Emperor related to the older Japanese dialect that he spoke. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, people gathered at his father's home. His father was viewed as a community leader. People wondered what was to become of those of Japanese ancestry. By the afternoon, young Mineta's friend from next door ran through the Mineta home saying that her father was being taken away. When the elder Mineta checked on the situation, no one knew who had picked up the neighbor. He checked with the city manager who did not know what was going on. Mineta checked further with the chief of police who knew nothing. The sheriff was no better informed but said the FBI was involved in the activity. An agent called on Mr. Mineta to tell him what was happening. Japanese community leaders and priests were being picked up. The elder Mineta was disappointed that he was not considered as a community leader. Young Mineta could not get over why his neighbor was being taken away. He would listen to the conversations that were going on in his father's office. No one knew what the impact of these actions would be. His father cried on 7 December because the land of his heritage had attacked his beloved adopted country. It was the first time Mineta saw his father cry.

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Norman Mineta grew up in California where the Alien Land Law existed. It stated that if one was not a citizen of the United States, no property could be owned in California. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the Oriental Exclusion Act of 1924 prohibited all Asians from becoming citizens. In 1928, Mineta's father wanted to build a home. An attorney in San Jose by the name of J.B. Peckham would be the surrogate owner for many people of Asiatic ancestry in California. When one of the oldest natural born Chinese, Filipino or Japanese children turned 21 years of age, the ownership would be shifted to them as the official property owner. That maneuver prevented many Asians from losing their lands during the evacuation and internment of California Japanese-Americans. Hence, Peckham saved the property for many Japanese-American immigrants. Executive Order Number 9066 issued by President Roosevelt [Annotator's Note: President Franklin D. Roosevelt] in February 1942 allowed for evacuation of any persons thought to be a threat to the peace by the Secretary of War. A commanding general of the western civil defense organization doubted the allegiance of all Japanese on the west coast. He began to round up and intern 120,000 Japanese-Americans on the coast by using Executive Order 9066. He used racetracks and fairgrounds to house those incarcerated. The stables provided for poor living quarters. The first group to leave was out of Los Angeles because of the shipping fleets there. The next group was from Bainbridge Island in Washington because of a Navy submarine fleet there. Placards went up to instruct those who were to be included with a non-alien status. They were no longer classified as citizens. To this day, Mineta cherishes being called a citizen because it was taken away at that time. Most people do not realize the significance of being considered a citizen. Mineta and his family had done nothing wrong other than they looked like the people who attacked Pearl Harbor. Contraband articles were defined for those being relocated. The evacuees would not be able to own those items. The non-aliens had to begin planning on the amount of clothes and other items they could carry with them because of limitations imposed on them. Mineta's father had to sell a new Packard car he had just purchased a month before Pearl Harbor. He had paid 1,100 dollars for it in November and by March he had to sell it for 300 dollars. Word spread in the various Japanese communities about what was going on around them. Newspapers for the Japanese-Americans existed until May or June 1942. The Japanese-American Citizens League also helped in the communications. Injections were given to the members of the community. Living in a well integrated community, the people of San Jose did not respond negatively to their neighbors who were being evacuated. In Salinas by contrast, some of families had men who were troops subjected to the Bataan Death March. There were harsh measures taken against the Japanese-American neighbors as a consequence. San Jose, however, did not have those kinds of reactions between neighbors. By the end of December, young Mineta was destroying any mementos or letters from Japan. All the remembrances from the family reunion visit to Japan in 1925 were eliminated. Mineta's father explained that there was a war with Japan and the family was faithful to their country, the United States. In 1939, Mineta's father had removed all his family names from the official Japanese registries. He wanted to prevent the family from having dual citizenship with Japan. It was not particularly that he could see the oncoming war. Rather, he just loved the United States.

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Norman Mineta's father wanted to work as an ASTP, Army Specialized Training Program, instructor in Chicago, Illinois. This was despite the fact that he was in camp in Heart Mountain, Wyoming [Annotator's Note: the site of a major Japanese-American internment center]. He left camp in April 1943 to teach officers the Japanese language as a part of ASTP training. Although he requested his family be allowed to accompany him in the assignment, the request was denied. Nevertheless, he moved to Chicago with ASTP. Prior to the Mineta family relocation, they had been notified when they would be departing San Jose for internment. The assembly point was an athletic area at the University of San Jose. The families were transported from the freight station rather than the passenger depot. Family friends joined them before they departed. It was both fun and sad to be leaving. As a Cub Scout, Mineta was picked to be a messenger between train cars. Passengers were not allowed by the guards to move about freely. Mineta would carry messages between family members who were separated in different train cars. Mineta brought his baseball, glove and bat aboard the train. The bat was taken by the MPs [Annotator's Note: military police] because of its potential as a weapon. It upset the young Mineta, but his father promised to get him another bat. While being interned, he never got another bat. Hitting a baseball with a wooden stick was not comfortable because of the stinging vibration felt in the hands when the ball was struck. That was the end of playing baseball without a regular bat. The family left San Jose on 29 May 1942 bound for San Anita. They arrived at their destination the next day. They had to make their own mattresses. Mineta's father advised him to use more hay in the construction because he would be sleeping on steeling springs. Mineta did so, but it was still an uncomfortable mattress. By the time the family reached San Anita, the horse stables had been filled so they lived in the barracks in the parking lots. The weather was hot. Living in the stables was a very smelly situation. Mineta felt fortunate not to live in the stables. San Anita was a popular, well maintained racetrack. While there, the family ate at a mess hall. They showered at the paddock in groups under multiple shower heads. The names of the famous period horses were over the paddocks. They joked about which famous horse they would shower with each time they entered the area. The showers were five or six blocks from the location of the barracks where the family was housed. It was necessary to wear shoes or slippers to go to the showers. The children would look over the fence to see what was playing at the local movie theater. They could not leave the barbed wire area because there were guard towers with searchlights and machine guns preventing movement outside of the compound. The barracks had no windows. Instead, there were isinglass [Annotator's Note: translucent material] windows where the searchlights could be observed going back and forth. Even putting the blanket over his eyes did not stop Mineta from imaging the back and forth motion of the lights. It was like counting sheep. He eventually fell asleep. At his age of ten years old, he did not feel the impact of the changes as much as his parents did. He could see his father weeping when departing San Jose [Annotator's Note: Mineta's voice waivers during this recollection.]. Later, Mineta's father would write a long letter to the Linderorfs [Annotator's Note: unsure of spelling] expressing his appreciation for them taking the family to the assembly area in San Jose. They would use the letter to confirm to other friends that the Minetas had arrived safely in San Anita. During the train ride to San Anita, the window shades were meant to be kept closed. Curiosity caused some passengers to peek through the shades slightly. That was greeted by shouts from the guards to close the opening. Most passengers knew that they were headed to San Anita because that was one of the local assembly areas for collection of the Japanese-Americans from Southern California in route to internment. People from the San Francisco area were gathered at Tanforan Racetrack in San Mateo. The Mineta family stayed in San Anita from 30 May 1942 to late November 1942. From there, it was five day train ride to Heart Mountain, Wyoming.

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Norman Mineta and his family were transferred to the Japanese-American internment camp at Heart Mountain, Wyoming [Annotator's Note: from the temporary collection camp at the San Anita racetrack in California]. Heart Mountain is close to Cody, and a bit further from Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. There were ten or so relocation centers like Heart Mountain. People could almost project where they were to be sent according to their original hometowns. Upon arrival, the weather was very cold and windy. The people from California were freezing. The passengers were carried to their new homes in Army trucks. The rooms were full of silt. The new arrivals used cardboard to sweep out the silt. The rooms were 25 feet by 25 feet so it was virtually a wall to wall bedroom when the six cots were placed in there. There was a potbelly stove in a corner of the room. Only tar paper was on the exterior wall. The outside wind passed through freely. Ropes with covers partitioned off the room for some privacy. Bathrooms were two blocks away as was the mess hall. The family was provided a large pot to bring coal to the stove to warm the room. Mineta's father built a bin to store coal inside the unit. No indication was given to the inhabitants as to the length of stay to anticipate. They only knew it would be for the duration of the war. It was a very large camp and comprised the third largest population in the state of Wyoming. There were about 13,000 people in the camp. Voter registration was not allowed in the camp for fear that voters in the camp would sway the overall elections within Wyoming. Registration had to be maintained in the original locations prior to collection for internment transit. Schools were not ready until three or four months after children arrived. To keep the youth busy, the elders wrote to the Boy and Girl Scouts of America to come and help organize troops in the camp. Several troops were established and jamborees were even begun. Contact was made with troops in the adjacent Wyoming areas outside of the camps. At first, the other troops were reluctant to go inside the camp because they assumed POWs [Annotator's Note: prisoners of war] were being held there. The troops inside the camp assured the others that they were Boy and Girl Scouts just like those outside the camp. They went after the same merit badges and wore the same uniforms. A troop from Cody, Wyoming accepted the invitation. The boys participated in typical scouting contests. They were paired off to pitch tents. Mineta and his companion from Cody had fun when they pulled a prank on the scouts next to their tent. The companion would turn out to be a lifelong friend. His name was Alan Simpson [Annotator's Note: Mineta and Simpson would be fellow congressmen in Washington, DC]. Simpson was a fat 12 year old kid who was full of energy and fun to be with. Being a scout has always stuck with the two of them. Their friendship has been maintained since 1943. Their wives always say the two of them revert to being 12 years old when they get together. The inhabitants of the camp were never allowed to leave camp. Mineta's sister and their father did manage to briefly leave camp, but Mineta only did once. It had snowed and Mineta rode a cardboard sled beyond the wire. An MP [Annotator's Note: military police] caught him and his friend. They were taken to the MP brig. Mineta was chewed out by his dad. There was not much direct contact with the MPs except to wave at them in the guard towers. By March 1943, the schools in the camp were started. Mineta had a wonderful teacher named Dorothy Foucar who was a Quaker who resided in Denver, Colorado. She was a fifth grade teacher and Mineta loved her. When he was mayor of San Jose, he would route his return trip from Washington, DC through Denver so he could visit her. She was a great teacher.

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Norman Mineta saw no newspapers in the camp. No radios were allowed. The only mail that arrived came from family members who were veterans serving overseas. In November 1943, the family was notified that they would be allowed to go to Illinois the next month [Annotator's Note: Mineta's father had previously moved to Chicago, Illinois as a Japanese language teacher for the Army Specialized Training Program, or ASTP]. Two suitcases each were packed. The family took a bus to the local train station. Reaching Billings, Montana, there was a layover. The family went for a meal in the local restaurant. After the meal, young Mineta began stacking his dishes like he would in the camp. His mother advised him that he would no longer have to do that. He was no longer in the camp mess hall. At Heart Mountain, any goods, clothing, toys or other items had to be ordered from catalogs. The orders from the Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogs must have been large from the internment camps. Mineta loved to view the items in the order books. Mineta's father received 19 dollars a month as a block manager in the compound. Mineta's sister was a secretary to the camp administrator. She made 16 dollars per month. Mineta's brother found college placement by the Quakers despite his Japanese ancestry. Most of the schools were liberal arts institutions. Mineta's brother went to a Methodist school named Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. A friend of the family named Reverend Lester Suzuki had attended there and aided in the entry of Mineta's brother to his alma mater. At the beginning of the war, all Japanese-Americans registered for the military. The brother was deemed 1-A at that time. By March 1942, he was reclassified as 4-C. The new classification meant that he was considered an enemy alien. It caused Mineta's brother to weep. He had been born in San Jose and was a proud United States citizen. The new classification felt like he had his back broken.

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Norman Mineta, his mother, father, and two sisters moved to Evanston, Illinois rather than living in Chicago where his father taught at the University of Chicago. The Evanston home was formerly a two car garage that had been converted to a nice bungalow. It was in the backyard of a dentist. There was one bedroom for the mother and dad and one for the two sisters. Mineta slept on the couch. He attended seventh, eighth and ninth grades in Evanston. When the war ended in August, Mineta's father requested that his director allow him to return to San Jose. The request was approved. Mineta's father wrote to his attorney and said he would like to return home. The home was inhabited by a University of San Jose speech and drama professor named Lucy Lawson. The attorney, Mr. Peckham [Annotator's Note: J.B. Peckham was an attorney in Southern California who had helped Asian-Americans maintain their property rights by carrying ownership of their property under his name. This was necessitated by discriminatory laws in place prior to the entry of the United States into World War 2], notified the professor that the Mineta family would be returning to their home. After a train ride to Oakland, the Lederoffs [Annotator’s Note: unsure of spelling] picked them up. The Minetas moved into their home on Thanksgiving Day 1945. It was a great feeling. There was no dinner to celebrate, but it was a great to be home. Some of the internment camp inhabitants did not return until 1946. The camps were all closed by May 1945. Everyone was given 25 dollars to go wherever they wanted. Some returned to their previous hometowns but others did not. Those who lived in Salinas did not return because of the tension felt there [Annotator's Note: a National Guard battalion from Salinas had been captured in the Philippines in 1942 and subjected to the Bataan Death March. Bitterness toward Japanese was high in that town as a result of the mistreatment of the American troops by their captors]. All Mineta's friends had returned by 1946. The family maintained a positive attitude. Mineta's brother-in-law was an executive director of the Japanese-American Citizens League. He felt that as long as the family kept its allegiance to the country, things would work out acceptably. Even though the internment involved 120,000 people, there was not a sustained bitterness or rancor from the experience. There is a deep commitment in the community that a similar situation should never happen to anyone again. Some had given up their citizenship during the war as a result of the frustration and anger resulting from internment. Many of them have since petitioned from Japan to regain their United States citizenship. Many have repatriated back to their former country.

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Norman Mineta finished high school in San Jose. The same students he attended class with in the 5th grade before internment were still in his class when he returned for the 9th grade. One teacher even compared Mineta to his older brother who had performed better in his studies while he attended the same school. Mineta would go on to enter Berkley to be an aeronautical engineer. His father wanted him to join in the insurance business, but he declined that direction. His career choice would be otherwise. During his instructions at Berkley, Mineta had to take calculus. That resulted in a significant change in his career goals. Mineta had a friend who decided to drop engineering despite intensive tutoring and a family history in the engineering disciplines. That man would go on to obtain a doctorate in Middle East history. He would climb the academics ranks in a college on the west coast. He even became acting president of the college.

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Norman Mineta joined his father in the insurance business after his military discharge. He was at Berkley University in 1950 when Korea was invaded. He received a college deferment when he signed up for ROTC [Annotator's Note: Reserve Officer Training Corps]. He graduated and received his commission. He went straight overseas. Mineta's brother and brother-in-law were both enlisted men. He saw how they and their families lived. He decided that being an officer would be better. In signing up for the military, his basic branch was the transportation corps. While waiting for his transport ship to carry him overseas, he was notified that he would fly to Tokyo. He was surprised. He found out that he was to be tested on his Japanese. His father had wanted his son to follow the lesson plans that he taught when he was at the University of Chicago teaching for the ASTP[Annotator's Note: Army Specialized Training Program] program. Mineta told his father that he wanted nothing to do with Japan. His father insisted that he learn from the lessons plan. When Mineta reached Japan, he went to the headquarters of the 500th Military Intelligence Group to be tested. He passed the test and became a military intelligence officer even though his basic branch remained transportation. Translators were in very short supply during the war. Many of the captured enemy soldiers knew how to speak Japanese even though they were Korean. Japan had occupied the peninsula during World War 2. After the Korean War was over, Mineta was transferred and became an 8th Army intelligence detachment commander. He came into contact with many officers, including a protégé of General Patton [Annotator's Note: General George S. Patton] named General I.D. White. General White informed Lieutenant Mineta that he wanted him to attend his staff meetings. There were about 25 general officers and many other officers and yet Mineta was selected to attend. Headquarters was loaded with high ranking officers. Mineta's duty helped him enjoy his Army tour. He considered making a career of the military. His father and his mother did not want Mineta to be a career officer so he left Japan in May 1956.

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Norman Mineta visited relatives while he was stationed in Japan [Annotator's Note: during the Korean War]. The relatives would laugh at the way he spoke Japanese. His dialect was decades out of date. That was a result of his father emigrating from his homeland many years before his son's arrival in Japan. The family spoke Japanese at home but it was an older series of words. The relatives thought it was quaint. The relatives lived in a rural part of Japan so they were never bombed. They did experience shortages of food and supplies. The major cities experienced the heavy bombing. Mineta visited Hiroshima while in Japan. His brother was on a troopship prior to the end of World War 2. The destination had been the Philippines, but after the surrender, they were diverted to Japan. They were some of the first American Army troops into Japan. The Marines had previously put up signs along the roadway that General Douglas MacArthur planned to drive from his arrival airport to Tokyo Bay for the surrender. It became the job of his brother's unit to remove the derogatory signs along that road that had been put in place by the Marines. Afterward, Mineta's brother went to visit family relatives in September 1945. He visited his mother's relatives then went to see his father's. When he reached his paternal grandfather's house, there was hostility, rejection, and reluctance to accept the American soldier. The cold feelings would eventually dissipate when Mineta's brother brought the grandfather cartons of Lucky Strike cigarettes. The packages had the red bull's eye on the cover which the grandfather interpreted as the Rising Sun. He loosened up his negative attitude at that point. Mineta, unlike his brother, would never meet his grandfather. He passed away before he reached Japan. It was eerie for Mineta to see Hiroshima and ground zero. In 2010, Mineta and his wife both visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki and were astounded by the destruction of the nuclear bombs and the lack of bitterness toward the United States. Most of the Japanese citizens seemed to realize that the bombs ended the war sooner and saved countless lives.

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Norman Mineta followed his father's lead following his military discharge. Mineta's father had made a career in the life insurance business. Mineta worked in life insurance but then decided he wanted to set up his business in fire and casualty rather than life insurance. His father advised his son that fire and casualty insurance would require too much paperwork and the commissions would not be as much as with life insurance. He reminded his son that the life insurance business had carried the family through the Depression and had even provided them with vacations each summer. The family saw the Grand Canyon in 1938. They visited Crater Lake in 1939. The family vacationed in Lake Tahoe in 1940. In 1941, the vacation was in a beach community in Santa Cruz. In 1960, Mineta set up a fire and casualty branch of the Mineta Insurance Agency along with his father who managed the life insurance portion of the agency. Mineta sold the agency in 1992 after it had been in his family since 1920. Mineta became a city councilman in 1967. He was asked to submit his name for the office because the residual term was being vacated by the newly elected mayor. His father worried that it would be too much pressure for his son. Mineta responded that the term was for only two unexpired years of the vacated office of the newly elected mayor. His name was submitted for the office and he was appointed to fill the two years. Mineta found that he enjoyed the work. Consequently, in 1969, Mineta ran for the full four year term as a city councilman. In 1971, Mineta ran for mayor. He was elected for a four year term. In 1974, Mineta ran for Congress. Working in the local public offices was a very enjoyable experience for Mineta. It was a high energy time when the area was being converted from agriculture to high tech. The region was to become known as Silicon Valley. The population of the city was approximately 220,000 when he was elected. It rose to 580,000 during his four year mayoral term. His main focus as mayor was for the community to grow gracefully. He wanted to introduce new parks, playgrounds, libraries, sewerage treatment facilities, roads and other public works.

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Norman Mineta became involved in the Asian-American Caucus when President Clinton [Annotator's Note: President William J. Clinton] was in office and Mrs. Clinton [Annotator's Note: Hillary Clinton] was taking on health care. Congresswoman Patsy Mink, Congressman Bob Matsui and Mineta were trying to get an appointment with Mrs. Clinton to talk to her about health issues in the Asian-American community. They were not having much success. It was suggested that she was more responsive to caucuses that had formed around some other minorities. Further, she might be more responsive if the three Congressional representatives formed an Asian-Pacific-American Caucus. They formed the caucus and then met with the First Lady concerning health care issues. Efforts to redress the issues related to Japanese-American internment were begun in 1978 by the National Japanese-American Citizens League. It sought to have an apology issued by the Congress for the treatment of United States citizens of Japanese ancestry during the war. It also proposed a payment of 25,000 dollars to each individual interned during that period. In 1979, several key members of the League approached Senators Inouye [Annotator's Note: Senator Daniel Inouye] and Spark Matsunaga and Congresswoman Mink, all three from Hawaii, as well as, Congressmen Matsui and Mineta, attempting to put forth their recommendation to the Congress. The five public officials agreed that what was being proposed represented a tall order. As discussion ensued, Senator Inouye suggested that the Warren Commission, which investigated the Kennedy assassination and resulted in tremendous publicity and a published best seller. Another commission investigating the Kent State College shootings by the Ohio National Guard also received huge publicity and popular publications. It was decided that a commission should be formed to investigate what prompted the internment during the war. Mineta suggested his young legislative director, Glenn Roberts, get involved. Roberts had a brother named Steve who was a reporter. Glenn was married to Cokie Roberts who was a well known television news analyst. Senator Matsunaga had already made progress in fact finding in this area. Glenn Roberts took that information and formed up The Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. It was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Carter [Annotator's Note: President Jimmy Carter]. Since Carter lost the election in 1980, President Reagan [Annotator's Note: President Ronald Reagan] would eventually appoint the commissioners. After two years of study, the commissioners concluded that the evacuation and internment resulted from historical racial discrimination, wartime hysteria, and weak or ineffective political leadership. It recommended a resolution of apology by Congress on behalf of the American people to those impacted. Additionally, redress payments of 20,000 dollars per person were also recommended. Glenn Roberts took the commission report findings and, in conjunction with the Office of Legislative Counsel, formed that into legislative language. That became HR442 which was named after the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the 100th Infantry Battalion [Annotator's Note: both of these were decorated Army infantry units composed of Asian or Japanese-American citizen soldiers]. Mineta helped shepherd the effort to get the bill passed over a ten year period. President Reagan signed the bill on 18 August 1988. It was known as the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. The Japanese-American community shouldered the yoke of internment during 1942. It was finally lifted in August 1988. Mineta sees that the country is willing to admit when it is wrong. The apology and the redress payments are primary examples. The money payment was felt by some to be demeaning. In putting the five years in perspective, it is a mere 4,000 dollars per year for the incarceration. Senators Alan Simpson was also instrumental in getting the legislation passed and signed.

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Norman Mineta was asked by President Clinton [Annotator's Note: President William J. Clinton] in 1993 if he would consider being Secretary of Transportation. Mineta had been in Congress for 18 years and was about to reach his coveted goal to be Chairman of the House Public Works and Transportation Committee. He respectfully declined the offer from the President but counter offered to be of help to the Chief Executive in the House. Christopher Warren was managing the effort to mobilize cabinet members for the newly elected President. Warren suggested that Mineta visit Arkansas and discuss it with the President elect. Mineta declined at first but then agreed. After some brief arm twisting, the two politicians had a good conversation about transportation. Seven years later, the President nominated Mineta as Secretary of Commerce. It was 2000 which was the end of the Clinton administration. The incoming President Bush [Annotator's Note: President George W. Bush], wanted to put a Democrat in his cabinet. Vice President Dick Cheney requested Mineta become a part of the cabinet. Mineta was concerned about being viewed as a Democrat turncoat in joining the Republican administration. Andy Card was going to call Mineta next. He was the Bush Chief of Staff and had been Secretary of Transportation under President George H.W. Bush when Mineta was Chairman of the Public Works and Transportation Committee in the House. Together, they had solved a potential injurious rail strike at that time. Mineta began to consider the proposal being made and got on a flight to Texas the next morning to meet with Bush. He was told to bring his wife, Deni [Annotator's Note: Danealia Mineta]. While in the motorcade to the Governor's Mansion, Mineta's son, Bob, called to say that a television news report had announced that Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn from the state of Washington was going to be named as Secretary of Transportation. The reaction from Cheney who was traveling with Mineta was upbeat. He was glad the press did not know what was going on. The Austin conversation with Bush was very well received by both Mineta and his wife. When Bush made the offer to Mineta for him to become his Secretary of Transportation, he accepted. Mineta jokes with his wife that he had her agreement before he accepted the position in the Bush administration.

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On 11 September 2001, Norman Mineta was having breakfast with the Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium who was also that country's Minister of Transport. With them was Jane Garvey who was head of the Federal Aviation Administration, the FAA. About 8:20, Mineta's Chief of Staff, John Flaherty, interrupted their meeting and asked to speak with him. Leaving the breakfast for an adjacent office, Mineta watched on the television as one of the World Trade Center Towers emitted thick smoke. No one knew what exactly the facts were. It was postulated that it could have been a commercial or private aircraft that hit the building, or it could have been an internal explosion within the structure causing the dense smoke. Mineta asked to be kept informed and then reentered the breakfast meeting and explained what he had seen. He was called back out of the gathering to be told that a commercial airplane had hit the building. As he was observing the television screen, a second aircraft hit the second Tower. Mineta was astounded. His attention became more focused on the commentary of the TV reporters. He excused himself from the breakfast with the Belgium dignitary and told the FAA leader that she had better return to her control center. At this juncture, he was called and told to get to the White House as quickly as possible. As he drove into the area of the federal office buildings, he observed workers evacuating the scene. Mineta questioned his driver as to whether they were actually headed in the best direction. Mineta went to the Situation Room to be briefed by Mr. Clarke [Annotator's Note: Richard A. Clarke was a National Security Council anti-terrorism advisor during this period of President George W. Bush's administration]. There was not very much additional information available from that briefing. Clarke told Mineta that he had to be in the PEOC, Presidential Emergency Operations Center. The PEOC is a bunker deep beneath the White House that serves as a shelter against a nuclear bomb attack. A Secret Service agent guided Mineta to the PEOC. When he arrived at about 9:20, he found that Vice President Cheney and his wife were already there. Mineta called his office and the FAA and kept the lines open for any directions he needed to give or information they could provide. During this point, a plane was found to be heading toward Washington. It had deactivated its transponder so the only way to trace it was with radar. He tracked the course that the errant aircraft had taken. The airplane continued to near Washington. Ultimately, the plane dropped off the radar and an update was received shortly thereafter that it had crashed into the Pentagon. Mineta told his contact in the FAA that with the third commercial aircraft being used as a missile, he wanted to ground all commercial aircraft immediately until the situation could be stabilized. He demanded that all planes be brought down as soon as possible. There were 5,148 planes in the air at the time. Within less than three hours all were landed. It took great coordination to accomplish that. The fourth plane being used by the terrorists was finally brought down near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Al-Qaeda was attempting to attack the major economic, military and political icons in the United States. They had succeeded with the first three high jacked planes. The fourth plane, which was brought down by the passengers and crew in Shanksville, was probably intended for the White House or the Capitol. The plane dove vertically straight into the ground. Mineta will always be grateful to the crew and the passengers [Annotator's Note: on United Flight 93] and their families for the sacrifice they made on behalf of the country. President Bush was in Florida when he received notification on the World Trade Center. He desired to be returned immediately to Washington. Instead, he was taken to a SAC [Annotator's Note: Strategic Air Command] base in Louisiana and then to one in Nebraska. Bush finally got back to the capital later in the evening and briefed the country on television. Afterward, a National Security Council meeting was held and Mineta, though not a normal member of the Council, was asked to attend because of the day's events. That meeting lasted about an hour.

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Norman Mineta attended a cabinet meeting on Thursday, 13 September [Annotator's Note: two days after the 11 September 2001 terrorists attacks]. House and Senate leadership from both sides of the aisle were present. Congressman David Bonior from Michigan expressed Arab-American and Muslim concerns from his state about the apparent indications of exclusion of those citizens from airplane travel. There was even talk of possibility rounding them up and moving them away. President Bush was also concerned. He said that the country could not let happen again what happened to Mineta and his fellow Japanese-Americans in 1942. That shocked Mineta. In a meeting at the Islamic Study Center on the following Monday, President Bush told the attendants that it was not loyal Arab-Americans nor faithful followers of Islam who perpetrated the events of 9-11. The United States government knew who the terrorists were and would pursue them. In late September, there was a hate crime murder committed. When the accused was asked why he killed the individual, he responded that he looked like the country's enemy. It turned out the injured individual was Sikh and not even of Arab background. In October, Bush announced to a gathering of minority members that the country would pursue any hate crimes carried out against their community. Mineta had been invited to Camp David in March 2001. During that weekend, Mineta explained to President Bush what it was like to be evacuated and interned during the war. They had a long conversation about the events. Bush harkened back to that experience and drew on it for his reaction to the rhetoric and hate crimes after 9-11. It is every citizen's responsibility to be the best he can be, but to also to contribute to the public good and welfare. Each individual should try to be a mentor and bring someone up along with him as he rises to the next level of the success. The melting pot is not a good idea. Individuals lose their unique identity. Rather, the country should be viewed as a tapestry with each individual contributing their unique qualities. An example is when the Olympic Team from the United States walks into the opening ceremony, there are various genders, colors and differing qualities in the participating individuals. That is what the country is all about. Every war we have participated in has brought sacrifices but also lessons learned. It is important to learn from the mistakes of the past. Because of Mineta's internment experience, he was more conscious of the reactions against a group of people because of the acts of a few of their members during 9-11. He established a three member team out of ACS, Aviation Civil Security, within the Federal Aviation Administration. They were to set up a new set of security regimens to get the airlines flying again [Annotator's Note: all commercial air traffic had been grounded on the morning of 9-11 to prevent further use of commercial aircraft as missiles]. By the end of the week, the team had completed their assignment and the new regulations were released. The airlines would fly again but the top demand was no racial or ethnic profiling. President Bush signed off on the new conditions. Mineta felt President Bush was a good guy and easy to communicate with. He enjoyed working with him [Annotator's Note: Mineta was a Democrat in President Bush's Republican cabinet].

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Norman Mineta had a brother-in-law who was a PRO, Public Relations Officer, for the 442nd Regiment [Annotator's Note: the 442nd Regimental Combat Team]. Mineta followed the war by reading his brother-in-law's mail sent to the family. He also followed the pace of the war by reading newspapers. Mineta made airplanes from balsa wood during his youth. He enjoyed reading and following the situation reports in papers and magazines. He neglected school work at times in doing so. He was very proud of the 442nd. His brother-in-law was an early 442nd volunteer. The unit was formed with his help in conversations with John J. McCloy, the Assistant Secretary of War [Annotator's Note: McCloy had also been instrumental in the commencement of the internment operations against the Japanese-Americans]. The 442nd led to pride in the Japanese-American community. The 442nd and the 100th Infantry Battalion earned 24 Medals of Honor. Many divisions did not earn that many commendations. Mineta's brother was an MIS, Military Intelligence Service, member. He went to Japan right after the war to use his language skills. Mineta's life was forever changed by 7 December 1941. It did not change who he was but made him much more aware of what was going on around him. He learned the difference between alien and non-alien and being a citizen. World War 2 taught Americans that the country had to serve as an equalizer in international politics. A show of force does not mean that an aggressive action will be taken. It could be used to prevent aggression. Our leadership in the world can be used for humanitarian purposes. Events involving natural devastation are times that military strength can be used for positive reasons. The National WWII Museum and Memorial are both important. Mineta is a veteran of the Korean War. He is working to establish the first United States Coast Guard Museum. Seven or eight former Secretaries of Transportation who had the Coast Guard under their responsibility are leading the effort. It is important to recognize the military in peace time as well as war time. Museums tell individuals about the past and what should be done for the future. A show of force is important in "speaking softly and carrying a big stick" [Annotator's Note: a quotation by President Theodore Roosevelt]. Future generations should be taught the lessons of war. To many today, World War 2, the Korean War, Vietnam War and even Afghanistan are forgotten wars. The MIAs [Annotator's Note: Missing in Action] from Korea may even be more numerous than those from Vietnam.

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