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George Takei helps mark 25th year of Japanese American plaza


Actor brings his 'big megaphone' to Portland

There was a bit of Star Trek talk, of course, but the prime directive for actor and activist George Takei on Sunday was to help celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Japanese American Historical Plaza and Bill of Rights Memorial in Portland.

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP PHOTO - George Takei, aboard the Portland Spirit, after speaking at Tom McCall Waterfront Park.Takei, best known for his role as Hikaru Sulu in the Star Trek television show and motion pictures, has a personal connection to the painful history of many Japanese Americans who lived in Oregon during World War II. Takei was a young boy in California in 1942 when his family was forced to relocate to an internment center in Arkansas. Takei says it is important to remember this history, which is slowly fading from memory as his generation ages.

The occasion for Takei’s visit was the anniversary of the historical plaza, which was dedicated on Aug. 3, 1990, at Tom McCall Waterfront Park. The plaza, using bronze relief, poetry and the landscape itself, describes the history of Japanese Americans, from the early Issei immigrants to today. Along the way, it tells what happened to the 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast who were imprisoned during the war.

Takei was the keynote speaker at a 4 p.m. public event at the plaza and he took part in a celebratory cruise afterwards. In explaining his activism for a variety of issues, Takei said his acting fame had afforded him “a big megaphone” to use in advocating for causes he considers important.