I can still remember the night I first met Mr. Spock… It was the first week of school. Early September, 1966. I had just returned to begin third grade and instead of everybody talking about their summer break the buzz was about a new TV series set to debut that was supposed to be different than anything before it.
I’m not sure where the anticipation came from, but it was definitely spread by my classmates, so that Thursday evening I was right in front of the TV. It wouldn’t be easy, the rest of the family wanted to watch My Three Sons. We decided we’d watch the first few minutes and see. That’s all it took! We were hooked on Star Trek, and have been ever since.
Now, there are countless articles and blogs that dive in to theories as to why the show became such a phenomenon and I won’t do that here, other than just to mark the passing of one of the strongest reasons why.
Mr. Spock was the boldest character television had produced to that point. He was different, an outsider, an alien in so many ways. Instead of rejecting him, the nation embraced him. Why? Search online and again, you’ll find countless opinions, even dissertations attempting to explain it.
Logic aside, to me there were three main reasons: Kirk, Spock and McCoy. It was what they represented, three distinctly different personalities all with the desire to make a difference. They learned to work as the ultimate team, to respect each other’s differences, that the good of the many outweighs the needs of the few.
They were the kind of characters a third grader could find themselves in and strive to want to be. By then we had all sort of outgrown Daniel Boone, Davey Crocket and the Lone Ranger. Here was something special that we could call our own, that we could see ourselves in and that we hoped we could one day be.
Star Trek inspired a generation to want to excel, to have a purpose and to want to make a difference.
The death of Leonard Nimoy hit me hard. Yes, it’s another reminder that we are all mortal and one day we will all be called home. But it’s also sad to know that the man who so well developed this character who became the anchor of sanity, loyalty and logic is no more.
I had the chance to interview Leonard Nimoy in 1995. I was just as impressed as I would have been at age 8. He was everything I imagined him to be! There were people everywhere who wanted to say hi. He was gracious to them all. It wasn’t that he loved the attention, but he had a deep respect for those who connected with the character.
He understood that he, and the rest of the cast represent sort of an intergalactic Tony Robbins, someone who’s message was, you’re just fine just the way you are! As long as you respect life, care about others and are willing to stand up for the oppressed you have a place in the Star Trek universe.
Sure, it was a corny, goofy, low-budget, flawed little TV show that was cancelled after three seasons, but at the core of it all was a glimpse of the very essence of humanity and a reflection of what so many still wish we would strive to be.
And what better wish could anyone ever offer than live long and prosper.
Thank you, Leonard Nimoy, for helping inspiring a generation to care!