'It's An American Story': Star Trek Actor George Takei Recalls His WWII-Era Imprisonment Moments In New Book My Lost Freedom

George Tekei speaks about his imprisonment in new children's book My Lost Freedom. He recalled a moment with his parents that left him "laughing and crying!"

Published on Apr 17, 2024  |  12:15 AM IST |  35.1K
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George Tekei (via Getty Images)

George Takei “laughed and cried,” while writing his new book!

The Star Trek alum shares heartfelt stories from imprisonment in his new children’s book My Lost Freedom. The book touches on the lives of Japanese Americans, including Takei and his family, in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbour attack, told on a kid-friendly level. 

 

All about Takei’s new children’s book 

The actor has been vocal about his experiences during World War II and believes the subject is still unknown to many. “It's an American story because it's a chapter of American democracy, and yet so many Americans either know absolutely nothing about it or whatever they know is rather skimpy,” he told People’s Magzine. 

In his 1994 memoir To the Stars and the 2019 graphic novel They Called Us Enemy, Takei has openly spoken about the subject. However, with his new children's book, he wishes to increase reachability. 

"My Lost Freedom tells a very elementary story, but maybe even on that elementary level, it puts the curiosity of daddy and mommy to learn a little bit more about it. And for their children, they are introduced to that story,” he says about the book. 

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What happened to Tekei and his family during WWII?

At the time, the US and Japan were at war with each other. In the events of that, the latter attacked America’s Pearl Harbour port, which escalated things further. 

Although everyone’s heard about the Harbour and Hiroshima attacks, the consequences on Japanese Americans are hardly discussed. 

“America saw us as the enemy simply because we looked like the people who did the bombing,” Takei writes in his book. Discussing the fate he and 100,000 people like him faced, he recalled how they lost their homes and were moved to temporary homes, where they would sleep on “bugs, flying insects and germs.”

 

Recalling THIS incident made him laugh and cry at the same time

Talking to People magazine, he shared an emotional yet light-hearted story of his parents. He recalled his mother snuck in a sewing machine, which was forbidden in the camp, to make clothes for the kids and curtains for their tent.

When she told his father about that, he was left “aghast.” “When she revealed it in Arkansas, my father was aghast. He couldn't believe she had brought in contraband: ‘What’s going to happen to us if they find it?’” he recalled. 

But given the levity of the situation, he burst out laughing, “He burst out into guffawing, and my mother joined in with him.”

“In remembering that, I started laughing and crying too at the same time. The pain, the kind of emotions that my parents had to go through, they just made me cry,” Tekei revealed.  

 

Why did Tekei release a children’s book on the subject

Simply put, he wanted to break the generational trauma by openly addressing what took place back then. He believes people don’t accept because of shame, “The generation that went through that experience were so wounded by it and also felt so shamed by it, which is actually not their shame."

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“But one unfairness of life is that the victims of that shame, governmental shame, are the ones who take on that shame, and they didn't talk about it with their children or their grandchildren,” the Mulan actor added. 

On the other hand, his family discussed it in “many after-dinner conversations,” and he wishes the same for the others through his book. 

The book My Lost Freedom: A Japanese American World War II Story is now available in the market. 

 

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