Leon Panetta: Yeah, I was very close to my nonno. That’s what we called grandfathers in Italian: my nonno and nonna. And my grandfather had come over in 1938. My grandfather was a big guy. He was over six feet. He had been in the Merchant Marines, and he sailed around the world in the old sailing ships. I remember now, when I went to Australia as CIA director and secretary of defense — and going to Sydney — that my grandfather used to talk about how beautiful Sydney was, and he went there in the old sailing ships and came to Monterey to visit my mother. He actually did some fishing in Monterey.
And then the war broke out, and my grandfather was not allowed to go back to Italy. So the one thing he did — because both my parents were working in the restaurant; my father was the chef and my mother handled the cash register — and so my grandfather basically took care of me and my brother. My brother was a little older, so he was out running around in the neighborhood. We were in an Italian neighborhood, so everybody kind of took care of each other. But my nonno really took care of me. And he used to walk with me. He used to put me on his shoulders, and we’d go down to the ocean together. And then suddenly, because of the war, a decision was made that, because he was an alien and he wasn’t a U.S. citizen — it sounds a lot like the problems we’re having today — there was a decision made that he might be a threat to national security, and aliens like him might be a threat to national security, so that they were required to move inland. Now, they didn’t set up camps like they did for the Japanese, thank God. But the fact was that my grandfather had to move away from the family because of that requirement. And I was asking myself, as a young boy who loved my grandfather, my nonno, I said, “Why is this happening?” And my parents really didn’t have a good explanation. They were trying to figure it out as well. But I do remember driving with them and my grandfather to San José. And we were able to locate a boarding house in San José, where a lot of other Italians had to move to, and leaving him. And I can’t tell you the impact that that had on me as a young boy, leaving my nonno.