MCGEHEE, Ark. – A part of Arkansas history includes the 17,000 Japanese Americans who were forced to live in internment camps in 1942.

Many families of those forced into the Rohwer and Jerome camps in Arkansas returned to the state for the 10th anniversary of the World War 2 Japanese Internment Museum in McGehee.

Star Trek actor George Takei spoke to those gathered for the anniversary of his experience at Rohwer as a 5-year-old boy, where his family was interned.

Japanese refugees were forced to live surrounded by barbed wire fences.

Another who was interned at one of the camps, 102-year-old George Teraoka who attended with his son Steve, said he was forced to leave his homeland.

“My dad had to ship out from his home on his 21st birthday,” Steven said “So, it was quite traumatic at that time.”

“It was a real cultural exchange here between black and white people who had never seen a Japanese person before and vice versa,” Steven said.

Steven said it’s been on his father’s bucket list for a long time. He missed the opportunity to visit a while back because of COVID-19.

“One of the first things he talked about was coming on this pilgrimage to Rohwer, because it had such an impact on his life,” Steven said.

The 10-year anniversary ends Thursday night with barbeque and an auction fundraiser.