We at JACL DC mourn the loss of Secretary Norman Y. Mineta. He was a ubiquitous
presence at our local events: the Cherry Blossom Freedom Walk at the National
Japanese American Memorial, Day of Remembrances at the Smithsonian National
Museum of American History, celebrations at the Embassy of Japan, and many of our
own JACL DC Chapter events such as Keiro Kai and Mochitsuki. We’ll also never forget
the Norman Mineta and His Legacy: An American Story D.C. film screening and Enemy
Child book event at the Library of Congress.
Norm was always surrounded by young and old alike who were eager to hear his
inspiring stories. At a book talk and signing, he sought out the young people and
empowered them with his words of wisdom. He encouraged students to become
engaged and take charge of their lives by saying, “There are two things you own–your
name and your integrity.” They saw up close how he changed a negative experience of
being labeled a “non-alien” during WWII to a positive asset of becoming an exemplary
citizen in his many responsibilities serving our country and his strong belief in our
He took time to thank and recognize his contemporaries and congratulate admiring
adults for their accomplishments as they reminisced together about their shared
histories. Many of our members remember Norm as a community leader, a political
giant, a mentor, and a friend, and commented that they remember Secretary Norman
Mineta as “Norm”. It was the way he treated people and how he spent time with them.
We thank his wife, Deni, for being the wind beneath Norm’s wings. Our hearts go out to
his many family members and friends. As we grieve the passing of Norman Mineta, let
us experience the full impact of our loss but also celebrate and express our gratitude for
his legacy and all that he has given us.
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