It’s not the finest chapter of American history, but it is history, and Arkansas played a big part in it.

It’s not the finest chapter of American history, but it is history, and Arkansas played a big part in it.

The National Park Service last week awarded nearly a quarter million dollars in grants to an Arkansas project that helps preserve and interpret sites where Japanese Americans were confined during World War II.

The Rohwer Relocation Center National Historic Park in Desha County in far southeastern Arkansas is the site of a Japanese-American relocation center from 1942-45. American citizens of Japanese ethnicity living in California, including a young George Takei, were removed to and detained in Arkansas for the duration of the war.

Rohwer was one of two relocation centers in Arkansas; the other was the Jerome Relocation Center, 27 miles away, according to information from the National Parks Service. Relocating Californians to the near-center of the country served the double purpose of getting them as far from the Pacific Ocean and its battle sites as possible and leaving the relocated citizens as far from things they knew and understood as feasible.

Rohwer was located on swampy land in the impoverished Mississippi Delta. The relocation center was surrounded by a barbed wire fence with a patrol road and eight watch towers, according to the Park Service. Outside the fenced central area, which included residential areas, school and hospital, relocation center residents dug ditches, cleared the land and grew vegetables. They also raised hogs and chickens.

Agriculture was the same challenge for them as for non-Asian farmers in the area: The weather was unpredictable and the land boggy.

Mr. Takei is known to an older generation for his portrayal of helmsman Hikaru Sulu on the original "Star Trek" series. He is known to a younger generation for his popular and lively Facebook page, his outspoken support of gay rights and his role in the musical "Allegiance," which chronicles the lives of a relocated Japanese-American family.

Once, more than a decade ago, ahead of a visit to Fort Smith related to his "Star Trek" role, a gracious Mr. Takei told the Times Record that as a youngster in the camp, he did not understand the politics behind the mass relocation. What he remembered was having the run of the woods that surrounded the center in those days. He and the other children had more freedom than they were used to in California, he said.

Today, he is perhaps more candid. In April 2013, he attended the dedication of the Japanese American Internment Museum in McGehee, between Rohwer and Jerome. At that time, writing for the Huffington Post, Mr. Takei remembered not a relocation center, but an internment camp with jailers who cared nothing for the American citizens they corralled. He remembered not the freedom of the woods, but the confinement of the fetid, mosquito-plagued swamps.

He noted that one of the few structures remaining from the time is a cemetery memorial on which are carved the names of Japanese-American soldiers who left the camps to fight in Europe as part of the segregated 442nd Regimental Combat team, which he calls "the most decorated unit in all the war."

Mr. Takei wrote: "Places like the museum and Rohwer camp exist to remind us of the dangers and fallibility of our democracy, which is only as strong as the adherence to our constitutional principles renders it. People like myself and those veterans lived through that failure, and we understand how quickly cherished liberties and freedom may slip away or disappear utter.

"Places like Rohwer matter, more than 70 years later. And so, we remember."

We also remember and are glad to see the University of Arkansas at Little Rock receive $220,00 for its preservation program at the cemetery at Rohwer and the Central Arkansas Library System receive $26,000 for its textile conservation and preservation project at Rohwer.

It matters, and we, too, remember.