Official US Government Icon

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure Site Icon

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Secretary Pete Buttigieg Statement on Secretary Mineta’s Passing

Thursday, May 5, 2022

This week, the world lost a great man: former Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta.  
Secretary Mineta was an Army veteran, the mayor of his hometown, a pioneering Congressman, the first Asian American Cabinet secretary, and the longest-serving Secretary of Transportation in U.S. history. In many ways, his path was defined by his powerful responses to some of the great tragedies of that history.  
After the attacks on Pearl Harbor, he was raised in an internment camp in the Wyoming desert. Yet rather than lose faith in a country that imprisoned him because of his race, the future Secretary Mineta devoted his life to serving that country—in uniform, in Congress, and in the Cabinet.  
Norm was a strong bipartisan voice for American infrastructure: in Congress as the Chairman of the House Committee on Public Works and Transportation, as Secretary of Commerce under President Bill Clinton, and as Secretary of Transportation under President George W. Bush.  
As Secretary of Transportation, he steered this Department through its darkest hours. On September 11th, Secretary Mineta acted quickly to ground 18,000 flights, and in the days that followed, he oversaw the creation of the TSA: the largest rapid mobilization of a new federal agency since World War II. Along the way, he took a strong stand against the rise of anti-Muslim hate, comparing it to the anti-Japanese discrimination he had lived through after Pearl Harbor.  
Secretary Mineta may be gone, but we live in a nation shaped by his legacy. His life’s work continues in the historic legislation he helped craft and support, like the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991, which helped shape how the government approaches transportation funding, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Voting Rights Act, and the Civil Liberties Act—the first official apology for the grave injustice of Japanese internment.  
It lives on in the memorial to Japanese American patriotism during World War II just a couple blocks north of the Capitol, which he fought to erect.  
It lives on in the TSA, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and at the Department of Transportation, where many colleagues remember him with great fondness and admiration.   
My thoughts today are with Secretary Mineta’s family, as well as with those at DOT who have lost a friend and mentor, and those who, inspired by his example, continue to dedicate their lives to making this country a better place.