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Norman Mineta

Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation

The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) had passed a resolution in 1978 saying, "We will undertake a legislative program to seek redress for the evacuation/internment of those of Japanese ancestry, and redress of $25,000 per person." Well, at that point, there was Senator (Daniel) Inouye, Senator (Spark) Matsunaga from Hawaii, Congressman Bob Matsui and I from California. So we had this one-sentence resolution from the national Japanese American Citizens League convention, wondering "What are we going to do with this now?" So as we kept meeting among ourselves, and with the JACL, Dan said, "Look, until we educate our colleagues about this, we are not going to get anywhere." Now, there was the Warren Commission that talked about the Kennedy assassination. There was the Commission on the Kent State slaughter. So what we should do is to have a commission, because those were bestsellers, they were on television. In this way we would be able to get to the depths of why the evacuation and internment occurred. So in 1978, we then established a legislation called the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, and that group, with Thurgood Marshall as one of the members, studied the whole issue, and by 1980, they issued a report saying that the evacuation was due to wartime hysteria, historical racial discrimination, and weak political leadership.
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George Mitchell

Presidential Medal of Freedom

I've worked since I was really a very small boy. Everybody in my family held numerous jobs. I delivered newspapers, shoveled snow, washed cars. I myself worked as a janitor all through junior high school and high school, cleaning the local boys' club, the local government office, the unemployment compensation office, other facilities, and my brother and I ran kind of what we'd now call a janitorial service at night. So after school, we'd go and play ball and then go to all these offices, and as soon as they'd close, we'd go and sweep up and clean up. So I've always worked throughout my entire life, and my parents did impart that to me, a very strong work ethic. My parents, particularly my father, had a profound belief in America. His view was that if you were lucky enough to live in America, and you had an education, and you were willing to work hard, you couldn't possibly fail. Those were the keys to success, and he drummed that into us throughout our whole life.
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Mario Molina

Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Mario Molina: For me, moving from Europe to the United States was a very important step. I had gone through college in Mexico in an engineering field, but what I really wanted to do was scientific research. The reason I did that in Mexico is that I did my mathematics, physics, and for me that was the way to combine these, combine my scientific curiosity with mathematics and with chemistry at that time. But later, I realized I really had to switch to chemistry as a science. So coming to the United States, doing a Ph.D. in chemistry in Berkeley, it was at the beginning a difficult thing for me to do. I really had to sort of learn much of basic science that I had not learned earlier on, but I was able to do that with some hard work. Eventually, I saw that I could actually master all these subjects, get very good grades, and indeed start doing new research. We started finding out new ways in which molecules function, new ways in which chemical reactions take place. And again, that was really the sort of thing I was looking forward to work with since I was a child.
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