#ThrowbackThursday: Star Trek's 50th Anniversary

In honor of Star Trek’s 50h Anniversary, we dug through our archives to find what the American News wrote about the sci-fi phenomenon in the past. This newspaper clipping from 1986 features a much-anticipated postage stamp featureing the starship Enterprise and its crew. 

Read the original text below.

Here’s your chance to beam aboard the Starship Enterprise

By Deana Brodkorb, Assistant Focus Editor

Earthbound Star Trek fans, all volunteers, are working diligently to insure the starship Enterprise will have a place in history with a U.S. commerative [sic] postage stamp.

Initially rejected, the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee has agreed to reconsider the proposal due the amount of support the stamp appeal has generated. Initially the March idea of Liz Randall, Big Lake, Minn., the effort now boasts main contacts in Iowa, California, Ohio, Michigan, New York and North Dakota and supporters in 42 states and England.

William Kraft of Strasburg, N.D. beamed aboard in July “and I’ve been at it nonstop since and I mean nonstop. Just about every spare minute goes into it.” Kraft, unlike most “Trekkies,” became a fan after seeing the first movie, Star Trek, The Motion Picture, saying the ending hooked him.

The phenomenal endurance of a television show, which was cancelled in 1969 after 79 episodes – two years before the Starship U.S.S. Enterprise’s five-year mission was completed – and which will celebrate is 20th year of existence this year, would be enough for many to warrant the issuance of a commerative [sic] stamp. Kraft says more important are the ideals which the Enterprise crew live by while bolding going where no man has gone before.

The petition which the Star Trek Commemorative Stamp Committee is beaming around the United States reads: “We, the devotees of Star Trek are imploring you to issue a commemorative stamp in honor of its 20th anniversary, 1966-1986. It is our conviction that Star Trek articulates an optimistic, humane, compassionate and noble view of man’s future and that it is imperative that if man is to have a civilized existence in space such a view be fostered, nurtured and propagated to assure the peaceful exploration of space for future generations.

“The purpose of this petition is two fold. First we want bestowed on its creator, Gene Roddenberry, its writers, its actors and its directors the recognition to which they are entitled. Secondly, we want to bestow on future generations a legacy of peaceful space exploration, a legacy that will have an untold impact on mankind for decades to come. We are entreating you to issue a stamp bearing the likeness of the Starship Enterprise, 20 years of optimism, love and hope.”

Kraft, now the co-vice chairman of the committee, adds that if the Posstal Service doesn’t want to look at the idealism, it should look at the practical aspects. “Millions of Star Trek fans are going to grab this thing as fast as it comes off the press. It will be a financial windfall for the Postal Service. Even if they’re not as idealistic as we are, they can look at it from a financial point of view.”

Why, after 20 years, do fans become practically cultists and consider any negative comment almost blasphemy? Kraft speculates there are a number of reasons but one of the basics is the appeal of the characters.

“They have depth and people get caught up in the relationships between Kirk, Spick and McCoy. A lot of times they had disagreements and yet it’s obvious when the chips are down they always come through in the clutches.”

The constant themes of hope and optimism are also selling points, according to Kraft. He points out that Capt. Kirk (Admiral Kirk by the time the television show became a movie) never attacked anyone; he retaliated only if lives or civilization was in danger. The television show demonstrated that two different cultures could co-exist peacefully, a goal with which Kraft believes many Trekkies identify. 

“The show really has become an institution. It has been the most popular and the most enduring; it’s invoked the most loyalty of any television show in history, I feel I can safely say that. It fired imaginations. It coincided with the whole space program, the two happened at the same time,” Kraft explains.

That coincidence hasn’t gone unnoticed by the United States Postal Service. In the letter to Kraft that said the stamp was being reconsidered Cassandra Jones, philatelic programs specialist, noted that there has been a proposal to issue a stamp featuring the Enterprise to commemorate Star Trek and the United States space program has been placed on the agenda for review.

That’s fine with Kraft’s group.

“That’s what they might do. It’s speculation on my part but they might put the space shuttle Enterprise and maybe the Star Trek Enterprise on the same stamp. I think that would be terrific. That’s fine with me because that’s what this is all about.”

The committee is reconsidering the stamp because of the amount of support the no even year-old idea has garnered, according to Kraft. North Dakota’s congressional delegation is backing the stamp, as is N.D. Gov. George Sinner. In his supporting letter Sinner wrote, “I can easily offer my support for a stamp celebrating the ideal of peace in space. In so far as the program Star Trek clearly articulated these ideas, the Starship Enterprise would appear an appropriate symbol for a commemorative stamp.”

The support is phenomenal but not at all surprising says Kraft. “There are millions of Star Trek fans out there – millions of them. It’s been around for 20 years now.”

To beam aboard the stamp effort write to Kraft at P.O. Box 452, Strasburg, N.D., 58573, or telephone him at 701-336-2655. Idea originator Randall may be reached at 22296 County Road 43, Big Lake, Minn., 55309.

Kraft also urges that Trekkies and those who support peace in space write directly to Cassandra Jones, philatelic programs specialist, Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, U.S. Postal Service, Washington, D.C., 20250. Letters to your state’s Congressmen and Senators would also be appreciated. “We need them or they’re not going to listen,” Kraft states.

He also stressed that one need not know who the Klingons are, what crew member was a Vulcan or what the United Federation of Plants is to support a Star Trek commemorative stamp. “We’ve shown the petition to a lot of people who are not Star Trek fans and they signed it because they could see the larger meaning.”