Actor George Takei speaks to Air Force Academy cadets
COLORADO SPRINGS — Actor George Takei addressed Air Force Academy cadets at the annual National Symposium on Character and Leadership last week.
This year’s NCLS event focused on ethics and respect for human dignity, helping leaders of character to understand moral knowledge and ethical alternatives, to respect the dignity of all people they meet and to use sound judgment in moral decision-making.
Takei spoke to cadets at Clune Arena about the “insidious” nature of racism and militarism and said true democracy is impossible without the promotion of human rights. He also spoke of his childhood spent with his family wrongfully imprisoned in Japanese-American internment camps.
“They called them internment camps, but they were actually concentration camps,” he said.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942, authorizing the transportation of thousands of Japanese American citizens to the camps, including one in southern Colorado.
“We saw two soldiers walking down our driveway,” he said. “Literally at gunpoint, we were forced to leave our house. The terror of this morning is etched in my memory.
Takei is also a strong advocate for LGBT rights and had dinner Feb. 22 with cadets from the school’s Spectrum Club, a support network for gay, lesbian, bisexual, questioning cadets and their allies.
Dr. Joseph Looney, the Academy’s chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer, said Takei and the other diverse speakers at the symposium expose cadets to backgrounds, cultures and identities with which they may be unfamiliar with or have preconceived ideas about.
“Understanding, awareness and recognition of different perspectives helps cadets lead an increasingly diverse air and space force,” he said. “Equally important, this awareness leads to authentic communication and enables Airmen and Custodians to be comfortable and confident in themselves. Creating inclusive command climates, where all Airmen and Custodians can investing themselves fully in the mission and feeling valued in their contributions cannot be understated.