Do you know why San Jose International Airport is named Norman Y. Mineta?

Do you know why San Jose International Airport is named Norman Y. Mineta?

Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport SJC is a significant airport serving the San Jose and Silicon Valley area. The airport is named in honor of Norman Yoshio Mineta who received numerous honors within the United States.  The political path that he had taken throughout his 40-year career has made him an icon in Santa Clara. He was the first Asian American to serve as the United States Secretary, a position he held twice—first under President Clinton in 2000 as the  United States Secretary of Commerce, and again as the Secretary of Transportation in 2001 under President George W. Bush.

Norman Mineta was born in San Jose and was the youngest of five children. Mineta’s childhood was carefree, and he was well-educated and loved by his parents. His father and the family were all valued community members in San Jose. This all changed on December 7th, 1941, when the country of his father’s birth attacked the United States.

Mineta’s most enduring childhood memory was the Pearl Harbor attack. Mineta’s father did not understand why Japan had attacked America, the country that had given him so much opportunity. His father told Mineta and his siblings, “I don’t know what’s going to happen to your mother and me. But just remember: All of you are U.S. citizens and this is your home” (Fukada and Pearce).

On February 17th, 1942, President Roosevelt signed the Executive Order 9066 that pushed the Japanese Americans out-of San Jose to the assembly center at the Santa Anita. American citizens of Japanese descent were no longer considered American that became Norman Mineta’s painful memories of his childhood (Fukada and Pearce). Japanese Americans could take only what they could carry; otherwise, they were forced to sell their belongings that they worked hard to build up for a long time.

Mineta was eleven years old when his family was evacuated. They were first sent to Santa Anita. Before it was called an internment camp, it was called an “assembly center”. There were about 120,000 Japanese Americans interned during the period of World War II, with a vast number of them being American-born citizens (Ringle). American government considered Japanese Americans to be disloyal to the country, for no reason other than that they were Japanese. The punishment from his beloved country created a severe injury in Mineta’s heart that could not heal during a long time.

The Internment Policy was retracted in 1944. Mineta and his family were able to return to San Jose in 1946, and unlike many others, they were able to reclaim their family home and properties. Mineta, like a lot of his friends, got his first job after moving home as a newspaper delivery boy for the Nichi Bei Times because “None of us really had anything” (Fukada and Pearce). Even though people lost their property after coming back from internment camps, they did not lose their belief and optimism.

Mineta went on to graduate from the U.C. Berkeley, with a degree in Business Administration. After graduation, he joined the United States Army and worked as an intelligence officer in Japan and Korea. With Mineta’s interest in public service sparked, he continued to participate in politics and embarked on his career. Mineta was elected mayor of San Jose and was the first Asian Pacific-American mayor in the United States.

He focused on developing free areas in San Jose and was an advocate for growing technology industry in the heart of Silicon Valley. One of his major contributions to the area was the encouragement of new industries throughout the county, which helped to increase job growth throughout the area. Because of his notable efforts, Silicon Valley is one of the tremendous high-technology centers all over the world these days.


As one of the Japanese’s personality is loyal, he consistently devoted his life for the political career to reinforce and foster the development of America. Over the past 40 years, Mineta had received numerous honors within the United States. He was the first Asian American to serve as the United States Secretary, a position he held twice—first under President Clinton in 2000 as the  United States Secretary of Commerce, and again as the Secretary of Transportation in 2001 under President George W. Bush (Fukada and Pearce).

The September 11 attacks were the most challenging time in Mineta’s career. Nevertheless, what counted was the way he managed and tackled this devastating event, airline hijacking has not happened until now since 2001. Additionally, as Secretary of Transportation, Mineta heightened security during the time of the terrorist threat that helped restore public confidence in the United States government. Nowadays, America’s transportation becomes one of the safest systems around the world.

 

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Amy Nguyen

Amy Nguyen

I feel happy to share my experiences with you about Travel - Food - Life around the world. I hope to inspire you to Live-Love- Laugh :)

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