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December, 1999

Millennium Musings
By George Takei

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Does the year seem to speed by as fast for you as it does for me? 1999 literally seems to have gone at warp speed. Here it is December already! Not only the end of the year but almost the century and the millennium as well. It's exhausting just to think of it -- much less recount all that has happened in the last twelve months.

January began for me with a celebratory splash. I was privileged to serve as the master of ceremonies of the gala festivities that go with the opening of a spectacular new building, the Pavilion of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. It is an 85,000-square-foot expansion building of the museum on whose board of trustees I had been serving for the last thirteen years. The opening exhibit called "Common Ground" is on all that we share and that interlinks us as Americans in a pluralistic nation. Of interest to Star Trek fans is the fact that the exhibit includes the Captain Sulu uniform that I wore in the motion picture, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

That theme of common ground was extended on to the international scene in February. I serve on a federal commission called the Japan-United States Friendship Commission. The U.S. commissioners joined with our Japanese counterparts in a joint meeting, the Japan-U.S. Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange, called CULCON for short, in Tokyo and later, Naha, Okinawa. Our mission, in short, is to deepen mutual understanding through culture and education. I proposed that our next joint meeting, to be held in the year 2001, be convened in Los Angeles with the venue to be the Japanese American National Museum. The unanimous approval was great, but that is going to mean a lot of work for me, as well as the staffs of both the commission and the museum, preparing for this important bi-annual, bi-national conference. We're going to make this the best conference yet since President John Kennedy initiated these exchanges during his administration. And it is a wonderful opportunity to show off our museum and my hometown as well. After the conference in Okinawa, I toured Hiroshima and the ancient capital of Japan, Kyoto. The trip was for me a personally enriching cultural and educational experience.

The year was crammed with speaking engagements at universities, corporate meetings and other gatherings that had me trekking all over the country from one coast to the other, from the Canadian to the Mexican border. I can't tell you how earnestly I pray for the early development of the transporter when I'll be able to just sparkle for a few seconds and simply "beam" over to whatever destination.

In all my travels in 1999, I had the most fun participating in the "Fab Four" Star Trek conventions organized by empresarios extraordinaire, Dave and Jackie Scott. It has been wonderful sharing a lively weekend with Nichelle Nichols, Jimmy Doohan and Walter Koenig and all the faithful fans in so many cities all over the country. These cons really were like warm family reunions.

One of these conventions, however, was a sad one for all of us. It was at a Fabulous Four con in San Francisco that we learned of DeForest Kelley's passing. Our hearts were heavy, but we decided, instead of grieving over his death, to make the convention a celebration of his life and a sharing of our joyful memories of a dear friend and gifted colleague. De will always be in our hearts and fond memories. He has left his widow Carolyn and all of us a glorious legacy.

The year ends with a completion of a great circle back to the Japanese American National Museum, whose trustees elected me Chairman of the Board effective January 1, 2000. It will be an engaging challenge and I know that the museum can count on the enthusiastic support of a great many people across the nation. I invite you all to visit the museum when you are in Los Angeles or when one of our traveling exhibits visits your city. Let's all boldly go into a new millennium where we have never gone before.

I send to all of you my heartiest holiday cheers and very best wishes for a stellar Y2K.



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