Photo courtesy of Jimmy Jeffress

George Takei, guest speaker at the Japanese-American internment commemoration in McGehee Tuesday afternoon, said he and his family were interned in 1942, along with thousands of others, because they happened to look like those who had bombed Pearl Harbor.

He spoke at the commemoration in the hope that “we never forget, and never repeat, the grave injustices of the past.” 

Photo courtesy of Mandy Dutton

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the federal government forced Japanese American citizens to leave the West Coast, out of fears for national security. They were imprisoned during the war at 10 relocation centers, including Rohwer and Jerome in Southeast Arkansas.

Takei, who portrayed Lt. Hikaru Sulu on the original Star Trek television series, was among the Japanese Americans interned at Rohwer during WWII.

Tuesday’s events included the dedication and opening of the World War II Japanese American Internment Museum at McGehee and the unveiling of outdoor exhibits at the Rohwer Relocation Center. Both projects were initiated through grants from the Japanese American Confinement Sites Program at the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. 

Takei releasing butterflies at Rohwer, courtesy of Mandy Dutton.