Former Star Trek Actor On Hand for Museum Dedication

A dedication ceremony was held in McGehee Tuesday afternoon to open a new museum, remembering a dark time in American history that few of us have heard much about, and leading that dedication, a face many of us will recognize.

Most of us remember George Takei, as the actor who played Mr. Sulu on Star Trek, but he remembers Arkansas for something much darker.

He remembers the early days of World War II, saying, "We were looked on with suspicion, and fear, and hate, simply because we looked like the people that bombed Pearl Harbor. That was our crime."

In 1942, at the beginning of World War II, Takei, at only 5 years old, and his family were uprooted from their home in California and brought to Southeast Arkansas to be imprisoned at a Japanese American Internment Camp, as part of a Presidential Executive Order. He was only here about 8 months, but it made a lasting impression.

He remembers, "I could see the barbed wire and century tower right outside my schoolhouse window, as I recited the words with liberty and justice for all. I was too young to appreciate the stinging irony of our pledge of allegiance to the flag."

Takei was on hand Tuesday for the dedication of the World War II Japanese American Internment Museum in McGehee: a place that tells the dark story of the Jerome and Rowher internment camps. Takei says it's a reminder of how fragile our democracy is, and how important it is for the country's citizens to stay involved in the process.

He says, "So many Arkansans said they never knew this story happened. So it was dead. We have now brought it back to life. It's alive and vibrant. And people are learning from it."

Some of the Japanese Americans imprisoned, actually became American soldiers after leaving the camp, and fought for the United States in Europe.