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Big Ted and Gene's Vision

[The Media Desk for the USS RAVEN(IFT) Newsletter]

©01 The Media Desk

        Two submarines, two cruisers, four destroyers, one frigate, three assault ships, a support ship, 85 aircraft including three F-18 class squadrons, an F-14 squadron, plus assorted helicopters and radar planes, and other aircraft.
                And Big Ted.

                "Walk softly and carry a Big Stick." President Theodore Roosevelt
        With 5,500 personnel, a four and a half acre flight deck, cruising at upwards of thirty knots, with its above listed battle group, CVN 71, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, is a big stick.

        Gene Roddenberry evidently believed that statement as well. In Wartime and Peacetime.

        Yes he knew war. Knew it well. A winner of the Distinguished Flying Cross for almost a hundred combat missions as a WWII bomber pilot, Captain Roddenberry was a great military pilot. However, the 'friendly skies' of the post war world didn't suit him. So he wandered a bit until he found himself a member of the LAPD. Where ones job was to maintain the peace. While carrying a big stick, and a revolver.

        Roddenberry's vision of Star Trek was not the wide-eyed idealism some have made it out to be. The ENTERPRISE was armed, they fought battles, killing people and blowing stuff up. But in almost every case, force was the last resort. From the Original Series through Next Generation under Roddenberry, the choice made by those flying the flag of Star Fleet was choose to negotiate rather than fight. But if there was a fight to be had...

        "I didn't start this war, but I'm liable to finish it." -Kirk 'A Taste of Armageddon'
        The various lead characters of all of Roddenberry's series never seemed to go looking for trouble. Even EARTH: Final Conflict and today's ANDROMEDA, they did not go out looking for a fight.

        This may be directly related to Roddenberry's war experience. Everybody knew war was coming. He and several friends even joined the Army Air Corps in July of '41 (he had gotten his pilot's license the year before). But the US was still promoting peace until a fateful Sunday Morning in December of that year.

        "Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan."
                                                                        -FDR
        America and her people have, through MOST of our history... yeah... Most of our history... have not gone around looking for a fight. There have been instances where 'pre-emptive action' was called for to avoid a more serious situation later. But for the majority of the USA's 225 years, the country did not react with force unless first attacked.

        Japanese Imperial Admiral Yamamoto predicted that his country would essentially have the run of the Pacific for about six months after they attacked Pearl Harbor, but then they would ultimately suffer defeat...
                "We have awakened a sleeping giant and have instilled in him a terrible resolve"

        He knew America well, he had been over here as military attache, he had seen the people and the industrial might of the country. He had counseled the Emperor against open warfare. But ordered to plan and lead the attack, he did.

        Historically those that have challenged America have always underestimated our willingness to do what was required to restore our country to peace.

        Maybe in this case those that ordered and planned the Attack of September eleventh have been watching the TV talk shows. Listening to the people that get on Jerry Springer and watching the commercials that show American men as stumbling idiots and American women as hopeless shop-aholics.
        Perhaps they have read in the papers about how Americans are all worried about irradiated meat in the supermarkets or whether or not a student led prayer at a sporting event was to be allowed. Americans are more concerned about saving the three-toed toad than defending themselves. Citizens of the USA wring their hands about who was being voted off 'Survivor' and weren't worried about a few irrational glory-seeking Islamic extremists.

        And we weren't.

                                        until the second plane hit

        In that moment. Broadcast world-wide on TV.

                        America.

                                That sleeping giant of 1941.

                                        Was reawakened.

        Years before, men like the writer Gene Roddenberry, a bright-eyed man from Boston named John F. Kennedy, Strom Thurmond an army colonel at the time, an actor by the name of Ronald Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt Jr., and innumerable others joined the fight against evil.

        Roddenberry's dream of a brighter future did not go down on a hijacked airliner, or in the fires of the collapsing buildings they struck.

        No it didn't.

        If anything, it was made even stronger.

        Yes, we are looking forward to a better future, to that great adventure. People like the cowards who send others to die while promising them the first seat in heaven will not get in the way of that dream. They will not kill it. They will not stop it. That sleeping giant that they have slapped awake will see to that. And Big Ted and his friends is just one of the Big Sticks the Giant is carrying.

        Every week, no matter what happened the week before, every episode of Roddenberry's first look at that future began with the same idealistic, hopeful speech. During the episode, somebody might die, a madman might try to hijack a starship, an evil menace would raise its head to challenge them, but by the end of the hour, they returned to that vision, that goal.

        Real life is not as simple as a 'one hour morality play'. But it can be a model for life.

        Evil has reared up in our face, madmen have struck, people have died. We must defeat it. Defeat them. Then and only then, however long it takes, can we return to that vision and pursue that goal....

 

"Space...the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise,
        its five-year mission
                ...to explore strange new worlds
                ...to seek out new life and new civilizations
                ...to boldly go where no man has gone before."
                                            Gene Roddenberry, 1966

 

 

 

peace, and long life


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