Norman Mineta: Experience At Heart Mountain Shaped His Career

Jul 29, 2019

Norman Mineta and Alan Simpson field questions from the audience after screening of the new documentary, "Norman Mineta and His Legacy: An American Story."
Credit Kamila Kudelska

This past weekend was the annual pilgrimage to Heart Mountain. This year's events included a screening of the new documentary Norman Mineta and His Legacy: An American Story.

Norman Mineta is a former member of congress and served as Secretary of Transportation under George W. Bush. He was also interned at Heart Mountain as a little kid during World War II.

The documentary focused on how his past experiences and his time at Heart Mountain helped shape him as the politician he became. He helped pass the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 that officially apologized for the injustice done to Japanese Americans during World War II.

Mineta said that he continues to come to Heart Mountain and supports the foundation's efforts to make sure Americans remembers what happened.

"You just want to keep that focus on making sure that something like this does not happen again to anyone," said Mineta.

After 9/11, Mineta sent a letter to all U.S. airlines forbidding them from practicing racial profiling. He later said his decision was based on his own experience.

The film also focused on Mineta's childhood friendship with Senator Alan Simpson. They met as young boy scouts at Heart Mountain and their friendship is still strong today.

As a Democrat Mineta said his friendship with Simpson during his time in congress was vital because he was able to talk and try to understand the republican side on certain issues. He added that politicians today need to try to reach across the aisle as well.

"Today you can't even talk about a compromise because people think it's a sign of weakness if you compromise," he said.

Mineta said he wants to make sure that Americans remember that people of Japanese ancestry were wrongfully detained during World War II.