'Star Trek' star talks about life in WWII internment camp

George Takei participates in Constitution Day

POINT LOMA, Calif. -  

"Star Trek" star George Takei visited a local high school Monday and spoke to students about his life in a World War II Japanese-American internment camp.

Takei visited High Tech High International in Point Loma for a Constitution Day lecture, and he was greeted with a massive round of applause from students, even thought the actor is from their parents' era. In turn, Takei greeted the students with the famous Vulcan "live long and prosper" hand gesture.

Takei, who is most famous for his role as Hikaru Sulu in the "Star Trek" films and TV series, then relived his life in the internment camps.

Takei was 5 years old when his family was taken from their Los Angeles home shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. His family stayed at a camp for three years. The camps have since been viewed as an egregious violation of U.S. constitutional rights.

"For my parents," Takei told 10News, "they remember it as one of the most degrading and humiliating experience that they've had."

Takei's lecture was just one of hundreds given in San Diego-area schools Monday, which marked the 225th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution. More than 140 attorneys volunteered to speak to more than 15,000 students about their rights and the law. The San Diego ACLU has coordinated the event the past six years.

ACLU Executive Director Kevin Keenan said it's important for the younger generation to understand their constitutional rights.

"Unless we're vigilant about our rights, great abuses and violations can happen again," said Keenan.

Takei fears something like the Japanese-American internment camps could happen again. He said a similar distrust occurred with Arab-Americans after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"That's why we're dependent on good people being actively engaged in the process of democracy to keep things like this from happening," said Takei.

 

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