‘I Will Never Be Able To Forget That Terror’: George Takei Opens Up About WWII Internment On ’22 Minutes With’ Brigitte Quinn

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — In this installment of “22 Minutes,” 1010 WINS anchor Brigitte Quinn talks with George Takei, best known for his role in the original Star Trek series, about his musical Allegiance.

Allegiance is about the internment of a Japanese-American family during World War II and was inspired by Takei’s true-life experiences. The Broadway musical will reach audiences nationwide when it is shown on the silver screen later this month.

“This story of the internment of Japanese-Americans during the Second World War is something that all Americans should know about,” Takei said. “There’s an important lesson we can extract from it, and particularly now in this political climate that we live in, when they’re talking about Muslim registries. Well, that’s what happened with us too, 75 years ago. They put together a Japanese-American registry.”

In 1942, Takei and his family were sent to an internment camp in Arkansas, after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order following the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Takei was just 5 years old at the time.

“We’re Americans. My mother was born in Sacramento, my father was a San Franciscan. They met and married in Los Angeles and my siblings and I were born there. And yet we happened to look like the people that bombed Pearl Harbor and on that basis alone this country was swept up in war hysteria and racial prejudice,” Takei said Wednesday, the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack.

“We were gazing out the front window and we saw two soldiers marching up our driveway. They carried rifles with shiny bayonets on top of them, they stomped up the porch and with their fists began banging on our door. That horrible sound resonated throughout the house. My father came out and answered the door and literally at gunpoint we were ordered out of our home,” Takei said. “My father gave my brother and me little packages of luggage to carry and we followed him out onto the driveway and we waited for our mother to come out. When she finally emerged, she was carrying our baby sister in one arm, a heavy looking duffel bag in the other and tears were streaming down her cheeks. I will never be able to forget that terror that morning, it’s seared into my memory.”

Takei said his father told him and his siblings that they were going on vacation.

“My father told us that we were going for a long vacation to a place called ‘Arkansas’ which sounded exotic to us. It could’ve been vacation in Maui. I thought everybody went on vacations on trains with all Japanese-Americans with armed soldiers at both ends of each car. And we arrived at a barbed wire prison camp. I remember those fences that confined us, tall sentry towers with machine guns pointed at us and when I made the night runs from our barracks to the latrine, search lights followed me but to this 5 year old I thought it was nice that they lit the way for me to pee. An innocent child just adjusting to a vacation.”

As an adult, Takei took that experience and turned it into Allegiance.

Fathom Events will show Allegiance at more than 600 cinemas nationwide on Dec. 13.

Click here to reserve tickets.

About Brigitte Quinn: 

Brigitte anchors mornings at 1010 WINS radio and has worked in broadcasting for more than thirty years.  She was a TV anchor at the Fox News Channel, MSNBC and NBC. She holds an MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College and a BS from Cornell University. Her first novel, “Anchored” was published in 2015.

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