|Bill Kraft of the STAR TREK Stamp Committee, from the front page of the St. Cloud MN Times. Times Photo by Paul Middelstaedt. Read entire Feature Article.
A SPECIAL NOTE OF THANKS
TO STAR TREK FANS!
At 8:45 a.m. on July 8, 1998, the long wait for STAR TREK fans ended. The U.S. Postal Service made it official. STAR TREK will be honored on a U.S. postage stamp in Septembr of 1999. It is a moment all of us can look to with pride and a sense of achievement. For many of us, what began as a distant dream is now a reality. After thirteen years of labor, that dream is now a fact because enough of you cared to get out the vote.
The STAR TREK Stamp Committee and I will always be grateful to you for helping us to Make It So! We--all STAR TREK fans--demonstrated the kind of grit that makes dreams come true!
Yours truly, Bill Kraft, STAR TREK Stamp Committee
(Editor's Note: Look for an interview with Bill Kraft in the July 20 issue of TIME MAGAZINE!)
By Kris Bergquist
TIMES STAFF WRITER
Bill Kraft of St. Cloud isn't anywhere close to being out of breath.
He's just getting warmed up for the final stretch of a 12-year marathon.
A "Star Trek" stamp available to the world.
"You know, this show is amazing. It's had three spin-off shows on TV and a series of movies. There's nothing else like that," Kraft said. "It's been ready for a stamp for a long time. This is it."
From May 1-30, people will have a chance to vote on new stamps that represent the 1960s in the U.S. Postal Service's Celebrate the Century program. There are 30 options to choose from in the decade, the categories are People & Events, Arts & Entertainment, Sports, Sci-ence & Technology and Lifestyle.
People can choose three options in each category and the top winners-15 total-will be printed and available June 1999. Buzz Snyder, St. Cloud postmaster, said the ballots will be available beginning May 1.
"You can vote as often as you want, but you must use the original ballot," he said. People also can vote online at stamp vote.msn.com.
"Star Trek" is in the Arts & Entertainment category, competing with The Motown Sound, Pop Art, "Easy Rider," The Beatles, "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-in", "Catch 22" and Woodstock.
"We'll be OK. Trekkers have clout when they organize," Kraft said.
Kraft, who works at Central Minnesota Libraries Exchange in St. Cloud, began his campaign with a love for the 1979 movie, "Star Trek- The Motion Picture."
At that point, he became a true Trekkie who loves the political, social and human issues that the show approaches through its science fiction tales. He wants something big like a stamp to help people see beyond the aliens and understand the importance of the series.
"It's not just about 'Star Trek,' " Kraft said. "It's about space, science, math and science education.... There's a synergy between science fiction and science fact. What starts out as a dream often becomes science fact. Not always, but sometimes. Look at the modern cellular phone. It's similar to Kirk's transmitter."
Todd Miller, who runs a computer--based company in New York City, has worked with Kraft on the stamp project for more than a decade. After falling in love with the original series when he was 5, Miller is still hooked and amazed at how it's affected the world.
"Every day, you hear some kind of reference to it, whether it's a play on 'where no man has gone before' or talking about warp speed," he said. "There's even a Klingon Institute where there are thousands of people learning this language. A whole language actually came about because of 'Star Trek.'
"It really is amazing what it's done. And it would be a cool recognition to have a U.S. stamp.... People could see it and reflect on it for a minute, what it represents with space and travel and getting off this planet sometime in the future."
Miller and about five others are part of the Enterprise Stamp Committee, which Kraft organized. They were not the first to have the idea, but this is a group that took up the cause and never let go.
Kraft soon learned that in order to request a stamp subject, one needs to go through the U.S. Postal Service's Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee. Anyone can send their idea to the commit-tee and have it considered with some proof of support. The committee's recommendations go on to the postmaster general, who has the final decision.
So the Enterprise Stamp Committee members went to "Star Trek" conventions for support. They got signatures for a petition to create a "Star Trek" stamp and they wrote and called famous people and institutions to ask for letters of recommendation.
Kraft said it's been an incredible experience. He spoke with science fiction writer Ray Bradbury over the phone and got a recommendation letter, one of about 140. They have recommendations from NASA, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the National Air and Space Museum, Isaac Asimov, Gene Roddenberry's widow Majel Barrett Roddenberry, Clyde Tombaugh who discovered Pluto in 1930, and the list goes on.
Kraft said he still can remember the day he got a letter from science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, who lives in Sri Lanka. He was shaking, he said. But he was smiling when he got to Clarke's closing line, "May you be bold enough to boldly go where no other postal authority has gone before ..."
Despite all the letters, the stamp committee has been denied over the years. Kraft said he's been told it was because "Star Trek" is a commercial enterprise, and there's no reason to get involved with a profitable company
In return, Kraft said he simply took inspiration from a scene in "Star Trek 3: The Search for Spock" where Capt. Kirk has been denied permission to look for Spock on the Genesis planet.
"He said, 'The word is no. Therefore, I'm going anyway.' So we've always said, 'The Post Of flee said no. Therefore we're going anyway,"' he said, laughing. "We passed the point of no return years ago. When you've invested as much time, energy and money as we have, you can't quit."
When Kraft heard about this new Celebrate the Century program that allows people to vote for their favorite topics from each decade, "I just went into orbit."
Right now, he's busy trying to get the word out via national publications like "USA Today" and "Entertainment Weekly." The committee would like to get a plug on Jay Leno's show since he's supposed to be a fan. They'll be using the Internet. And he's going to be working locally, most likely with the help of the USS Farragut NCC 1702, the St. Cloud Star Trek Fan Club, of which he's a member.
And what happens if this quest becomes a reality?
"We'll have a major celebration and I'd buy a sheet and frame it for posterity," Kraft said. "But I'm very cautiously optimistic about this. After 12 years of trying, I have to be.... This really is the final sprint. By May 30, this is over. After that, we probably won't get another chance."