Norman Mineta may be best known for being the U.S. transportation secretary on Sept. 11, 2001 when America came under attack by terrorists who hijacked four airliners and crashed them into the Pentagon, the World Trade Center buildings, and into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. As America was being attacked, Secretary Mineta ordered every aircraft flying in American airspace–more than 4500 airplanes–to land immediately.
But Mineta’s life of public service began long before that day. He was the first Asian American elected mayor of a major city (San Jose) in the U.S. He was a 10-term congressman. He had been the secretary of commerce under Democratic President Bill Clinton before serving as transportation secretary under Republican President George W. Bush.
As a 10-year-old boy, he was incarcerated with his family in an internment camp when 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent were rounded up and forced into the camps. There, he met a fellow Boy Scout, Alan Simpson, who would become a U.S. Senator and a lifelong friend.
During this podcast, Mr. Mineta talks about his experiences on 9/11, about his life of public service, and about the injustice of the internment camps. Mr. Mineta, who was known for his comity in Washington, also tells me why he believes there is a lack of civility in our nation’s capital today.
Related show links:
- New York Times article on passage of H.R. 442, The Civil Liberties Act of 1988
- Japanese American National Museum