Takei Honoured On Independence DayBy Michelle
July 5, 2005 - 4:40 PM
George Takei celebrated the Fourth of July yesterday by accepting the 2005 Kenneth T. Norris Heritage of Freedom award at the Palos Verdes Independence Day Celebration, cited for his "mindful optimism."
Los Angeles' Daily Breeze reported that Takei's keynote address would perform a similar function to Sulu's when he took over as helmsman for the festivities, which included food and fireworks as well as Takei's speech. In that address, the 68-year-old actor said, "I am going to personalize my own personal history. I mean, I'm enjoying all the benefits of this great country today, but where did I come from? As a child I looked out on the world from behind a barbed-wire fence, and I lived in a whole, totally different America then."
Takei, who spent part of his childhood in a World War II Japanese-American relocation camp in the United States despite the fact that he was born an American citizen, defined himself as a Californian and said he felt American not only because of where he was raised but because "I've been defined by the American ideals and also the failures of those American ideals...I know that my America that I enjoy today was paid for with blood and sacrifice by incredible people that went from behind those barbed-wire fences." He quoted his father, who told him that the strength and weakness of a true people's democracy is that it is as fallible as peoplem including those who would manipulate or abuse the system.
"Our democracy is a dynamic democracy, a work in progress, constantly being redefined, but in the context of the basic core ideals of this country, because the people who put those ideals down on paper were great men, but who themselves kept slaves, who themselves kept women out of our system," he observed. "It's every American taking the responsibility to make those ideals truer that makes our country as great as it is, that this is a system that is open for that. Other systems are not."
On his web site, Takei has condemned recent threats to the civil liberties of Arab Americans. "I think we are in a very divided state right now in a large part because of the nature of the leadership," he stated. "We talk about red states and blue states, we talk about division in our country. And we've got to be able to define the common ground as Americans who have common interests in our progress...we're boldly going where we haven't been before -- wasn't that a cheap one!"
Describing Gene Roddenberry as "a visionary", Takei noted that the Star Trek creator said that the strength of his starship was in its diversity. "People thought, 'Our society is changing forever,'" then as now. "At a time like that, Gene was talking about bringing that diversity together, working in concert, seeing it as a strength, not as something divisive."
The original article is at The Daily Breeze.