George Takei Reflects on Travel, Both Painful and Pleasurable

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tags: George Takei, Japanese internment

George Takei is a man of many speaking engagements. He talks at “Star Trek” conventions about his role as Mr. Sulu. He tells soldiers and students about the role of Japanese-Americans during World War II, a subject in which he is well versed. In a new musical, “Allegiance,” based on his family’s experience living in internment camps during the war, he actually sings the story....

In May, Mr. Takei, 76, will do a speaking tour at universities in Japan and Korea, organized by the State Department, to talk about his life and career as an openly gay Asian-American....

Q. Why were you speaking at military bases in Bavaria a few years back?

A. May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, and about five years ago the military decided they needed to know more about the Asian-American contribution to our military. I spoke at every American base in southern Bavaria and described some of the battles. I talked about the absolutely amazing heroism of the Japanese-Americans during World War II, young men who came from behind barbed-wired internment camps, who were labeled enemy non-aliens. They even took the word “citizen” from us. And yet, a year later, when they opened up service to us, thousands went to fight in Europe, in a segregated unit. When they came back, they were welcomed back on the White House lawn.

Where was your family interned during World War II?

I will never forget that scary day. My parents were packing, and I saw two soldiers with bayonets march up to our front door, and we were marched out simply because of our ancestry. We were taken to a swamp in Arkansas and later to Wyoming....

Read entire article at New York Times

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