[Note: I (Christopher) started this blog entry the night we got back from Comicpalooza; Monday, May 28. It is now Wednesday, June 13, and I am just now getting back to it. Anyway, let’s start with what I began, and then I will note what I added tonight.] Wow… what a weekend! Heather and I (Christopher) just got back from our second Comicpalooza, and we had a wonderful time! It was so great seeing old and recent friends and making new ones. Thanks to everyone who came by our booth and chatted with us, attended our reading, or came to our panel. Thank you especially to those of you who bought something from us… we can now pay bills.
Many of you left our booth with a small chapter book, a bookmark, a business card, or something else that has drawn you here, hopefully. This blog contains lots of information we wish our website contained, but that will be addressed at some point. For now, the blog contains the latest information about or goings on and where to find stuff. For example, if you check out our Box.net window, you can download our chapter book and the “how to start your own publishing company” presentation we gave Sunday.
[This is new stuff as of June 13th.]
Why I asked George Takei to sign a photo of a History Fair Project
I like to consider myself a student of history… not only in the classroom, but for fun and for broadening my horizons. Back in high school during my senior year, the captain of the varsity football team and I were teamed up to compete in our school’s history fair. For those unfamiliar with a history fair, each student team must pick an approved theme, conduct research on that theme, and present an argument using pictures, words, and other creative media. Usually, these projects took the form of either free-standing or tabletop boards with stuff glued onto them. Arguably one of worst travesties in our recent history was the forced internment of Japanese citizens and US citizens of Japanese ancestry in the United States during World War II. I chose that topic because despite the heinousness of removing people from their homes and forcing them to live in stables, barns, and eventually concentration camp-type dwellings out in barren country, this was not a subject detailed in our history books… perhaps a footnote, but that was it. Ack!!! I felt outrage as I delved into the callousness of those officials who proposed, backed, and executed the executive order forcing the internment of US citizens without trial, and so I managed to convince my teammate and the instructor that this would be the topic for our project.
Without giving away my age, I will say that we researched this project before the Internet, though AARPNET existed, but it wasn’t public knowledge. I don’t recall that the high school library or the local public library possessed enough research material, so we ended up traveling to Rice University to use their resources, as I recall. Looking back on our research and our development of the project, I remember the outrage I felt at how easily our government took basic rights away from its citizens… not only that, but outrage that so little information from back then was available… as if after 40 years “they” were still covering it up, to some degree… not owning up to it. So, the QB and I put together the project, which included a Japanese flag my mom made (in addition to sewing the black fabric for the 3-fold board), and we presented it to the judges. I don’t know whether we placed, but I think we did… Anyway, I took a picture of the project at home, before we headed to the fair, and I have kept that picture in an old photo album.
When I heard George Takei was going to be at Comicpalooza, I had remembered reading somewhere that he had grown up in an internment camp; I also remembered that I possessed this picture from the history fair project. As some might know, George is an activist spreading the word about the internment camps via a play he has put together and by hosting awareness events in major cities. Because of what he has lived through and because of his activism, I thought he would be interested to learn that even during the 80’s, when much of the history he lived through remained obscured, that someone felt strongly enough about the plight of those interned to spread the word.
Before going to Comicpalooza, I scanned that photo and printed two enlarged copies… one for me and one for him. I could have brought a book with his likeness as Sulu or or bought a picture of him for him to sign, but I thought the image of this history fair project had more meaning for me, at least, and that he might enjoy the copy for him. When I went to his table, he was more than happy to sign my print. He also spoke of his play, the awareness program, and a little about where his family was sent. He also talked about the 442, a brigade (or company… I don’t remember) of US citizens of Japanese ancestry serving with distinction in the European theater of World War II (the character Mr. Miagi in the Karate Kid had served in the 442). George told me a brief story that I had read before about how the 442 had come to the rescue of a unit drawn up from Texas that was surrounded. The 442 rescued the entrapped unit, but at the cost of 80% of their forces. Members of the 442, as well as the unit itself, were awarded with several medals of valor (I don’t recall which specific medals, but they were highly decorated for their courage and valor). George gave me a firm handshake and met my gaze before I left.
Looking back still gives me a bit of a tear in my eye… not only at the privilege of meeting George Takei and sharing such a poignant experience with him, but also of what he and all of those other people who were interned must have felt. One important lesson George and many others are trying to convey is that this should never happen again. And yet, I bet the gears were turning in the minds of war hawks after 911 to evict and / or intern people of middle-eastern ancestry and / or Islamic faith, US citizens included, for fear that they would sabotage America. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed. However, we as US citizens must be vigilant so our government never again rounds us up and imprisons us without charge and without due process… just because we are of a particular ancestry or culture, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, gender, or whatever.
Thank you George Takei for the discussion and for your kind words.
We have a few more things going on, such as free giveaway winners, our Goodreads free giveaway, upcoming book signing events, and website updates, but I will add those in another post.