Get to know DeForest Kelley through Kristine Smith!
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Author of DeForest Kelley: A Harvest of Memories
Star Trek and Me
(© 2006 by KM Smith)
Forty years ago, on September 8, 1966, I sat in front of a black and white television set and for the first time heard a riveting adventurer’s creed, “SPACE, THE FINAL FRONTIER. THESE ARE THE VOYAGES OF THE STARSHIP ENTERPRISE…” Little did I know, that evening, that my black and white world was about to explode into full-blown Technicolor and that 40 years later I would be looking back on that date as being among the most significant in my life.
What has this television show done to me and for me? To fully understand what Star Trek meant to many of my generation (we were teenagers at the time), we need a brief look back to the decade in which the series premiered: Star Trek arrived in the mid-60s, when it seemed the United States was very close to coming apart at the seams, thanks to downright scandalous racial injustices, college campus unrest and violence, and various other societal ills too numerous to mention. We had not long before just barely survived the Cuban Missile Crisis, then there was the assassination of President Kennedy; we were embroiled in a divisive Vietnam War; and, in the midst of the series’ first run (in 1968) we suffered the additional assassinations of the slain President’s brother Robert Kennedy (then a candidate for President) and of Martin Luther King Jr., the blacks’ only real hope for a peaceful end to a struggle for equal opportunity and justice that had worn on for more than a century.
Into this nightmare of a pressure cooker stepped Gene Roddenberry’s science fiction series Star Trek, peopled by a cohesive and mutually supportive multi-racial and multinational crew, not only of humans but even a pointy-eared, green-blooded Vulcan. These people got along – not perfectly, but certainly a whole lot better than we were doing in the world in which we were living at the time!
As I watched the series, I couldn’t help but grow hopeful. Forty years later we still have a long way to go, but we’re still here, no small miracle in itself! Star Trek inspired us back then, and still does – gave us hope that one day the world’s people will be united in peaceful, cooperative space exploration (and other pursuits) instead of staring at each other through the sights of a weapon; hope that people will realize we share a limited ecosphere and that we all have the same basic needs: water, food, air, land, and an instinctive need to be heard and understood, to be loved, to feel safe; and a desire to be celebrated, not just tolerated.
Additionally, the lifelong friends I have made as the result of being a Star Trek fan are legion. The ethic of Star Trek sowed into my life an abiding love for a lot of people I would not otherwise have met or even thought much about, as well as a love for a lot of people I may never meet, from all over the world. The emotional bank account from this series’ legacy has by now grown at such a compounded rate of interest that not even terrorists will ever bankrupt it or the hope it has given me for a world at peace. I continue to believe in the potential of mankind to “live long and prosper” despite our differences. We all have much more in common than we have that divides us.
To read a description of the Kelley book, along with reviews, or to order online, please click here: http://www.netcomuk.co.uk/~mdownes/kris/kristinesmith.html.