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Thu Aug 24, 2017, 11:15 AM

On opposite sides of barbed-wire fence, an enduring friendship formed in Scouting

Norman Mineta was a proud 10-year-old Cub Scout in 1942 when the U.S. government began imprisoning Japanese-Americans. Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor months earlier, and Mineta and his family became six of the 120,000 people of Japanese descent interned by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Mineta and his parents, two sisters and brother were moved from San Jose, Calif., to the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Cody, Wyo. The camp opened 75 years ago this month.

As a member of the Heart Mountain Boy Scout troop, Mineta met Alan Simpson, a Boy Scout who lived in Cody. The Cody Scouts traveled to Heart Mountain for a jamboree held inside the campís barbed-wire fencing. Mineta and Simpson became fast friends, bonding over their shared love of comics, silly stories and Scouting.

Thirty years later, when Mineta was a Democratic representative from California and Simpson a Republican senator from Wyoming, the two remained friends. (Simpson served as a senator for 18 years, and Mineta later became secretary of transportation under President George W. Bush.) Seven decades after they met, Mineta and Simpson ó now both 85 ó remain friends. As reported in The Washington Post, the pair returned to Heart Mountain this month to speak out against the racism that led to the campís opening.

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