John Aitken, director of aviation at Mineta San José International Airport, California, has issued a statement honoring the life and legacy of former US secretary of transportation, Norman Y Mineta, following news of his passing on May 3.
Mineta was the first Asian-American Mayor of San José, and of any major US city, from 1971 to 1975. He served as the only Democratic member of President George W Bush’s Cabinet as secretary of transportation from 2001 to 2006, overseeing the aviation sector during and after the attacks on September 11, 2001.
Mineta also served in President Bill Clinton’s Administration as secretary of commerce, and in Congress representing San José for over two decades from 1975 to 1995. During this time, he founded and chaired the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.
Aitken said, “We are deeply saddened by the news of secretary Mineta’s passing. Norm was a champion for aviation from his time leading the City of San José, to his 20 years representing Silicon Valley in Congress, to his service in two presidential administrations.
“He, perhaps, will be best remembered for his decisive actions as secretary of transportation that kept America safe on and after September 11, 2001. But his commitment to advancing America’s aviation infrastructure – and the people who make it work – began well before that fateful day, and has continued since.
“Just last year, secretary Mineta spent his birthday on Zoom with a group of our airport staff to discuss his experience as a first-generation Japanese American during World War II and how it shaped his commitment to a career in public service.
“Secretary Mineta often joked that he found it odd that his parents named him after an airport. The truth is, he inspired us with much more than just his name, and we are proud to be entrusted with his legacy,” he said.
San José City Council approved changing the airport’s name to ‘Norman Y. Mineta San José International Airport’ in honor of the former mayor and long-term congressman in 2001.