In case you missed it, Star Trek turned 50 years old today.
As a child of the Space Race, I was certainly not alone in expecting that humanity would be well into space by now. Indeed, boldly going where no one has gone before. Budgets got cut, slashed and just plain mutilated; bringing those dreams to a crashing halt.
I have been a fan of Star Trek since the show’s first run in prime time on NBC. I had one of the first Star Trek lunch boxes, the metal version of the lunch pail, carried by so many. Proudly, I have always considered myself a “Trekker”. Not a “Trekkie”. For a variety of reasons, most having to do less with hero worship and more with the possibilities that lay out among the stars.
My first Star Trek convention was the Red Hour Festival at Lincoln High School in San Francisco in 1975. My first convention as volunteer was over the Presidents Day weekend in 1977; where among other things I met good friends and the woman who would eventually become my wife. That led to involvement with the crew of a stage illusion based on Star Trek’s “Transporter”. And oddly enough, a DVD on those early cons, manages to show me on film at a number of them.
Yes, I have costumes, a few props and my share of other “Trek” collectibles. I have been a fan of the movies and television shows that came after the original. The view above, of a fine large scale model of the motion picture version of the U.S.S. Enterprise, was from a visit to Star Trek: The Experience in Las Vegas, when a good friend from those convention days joined the retail side of things there.
Looking back over the years, “Star Trek” has always been about hope. Hope for a better future for us all. When you look back to the 60’s when the show aired, things were looking pretty bleak as the future loomed. The Cold War could turn hot with nuclear weapons exchanged with the Soviets at any time. Pollution of the planet was growing and there were a lot of problems yet to be taken on as challenges. Even just the simple question of “How do we all get along peacefully?” was an unanswered one that loomed larger all the time.
Even though this television show only ran three seasons on NBC, the message of a better world for us all was something that resonated with the audience. When syndication brought reruns to local markets, that message spread. If we could manage not to kill ourselves on a global scale, we might just get things better, if not closer to what we saw on our televisions.
All these years later, “Star Trek” continues to be about hope. We still have a long way to go as a planet, but thanks to messages like this one, we are much closer today than we were back then.