First Contact, What Does It Mean to You?

When most Star Trek fans hear the words first contact, it brings to mind Vulcans landing in Montana, Zefram Cochrane’s shaking hands with the first alien species we ever met. This happened, as most of you know, on April 5th, 2063, after a Vulcan research team, passing through our system, detected the warp signature of Zefram Cochrane’s first warp flight. That infamous day changed the course of human history and, no one knew at the time, the course of an entire galaxy. Earth was mostly in ruin after the 3rd World War, most governments had fallen, and people were just trying to survive. The arrival of the Vulcans made humanity realize we are not alone in the universe and sparked something in us that helped us come together as a species. Now I am not saying we all came together and sang kumbaya, but over time we started to work together and abolish things like poverty, illness, and eventually, even hatred of each other. 

At this point I would like you to ask yourself, what do the words first contact mean to you, what do you picture or feel when you say these words? Does it suggest, a favorite Star Trek episode or even another Sci Fi show or movie? Everyone is different, and I know that each of us has different ideas as to what it could mean. For me, it immediately brings to mind the movie First Contact, but it goes deeper than that for me as well. When I hear those words, I feel hope and happiness. I feel and see the potential of humanity that Gene Roddenberry saw himself. It brings memories of watching Star Trek with my mom as a kid, looking up at her and thinking she’s so strong, she could be a Starfleet Captain. First contact makes me think Star Trek, and Star Trek helps me believe in my fellow humans.

I see such hatred towards each other on the news all the time, but I know deep down we are capable of so much more.  I want all of us to see the potential in humanity that Gene did. I want everyone to see just another human when they look at someone. I know that if we could put aside our differences and hatred, we could reach the stars and so much more. First Contact showed us that we can accomplish anything as a united people, as a world come together under one truth, that we are not alone. That single truth was the first step to a better and brighter future, not just for Earth but many other worlds and species in the galaxy.

When humanity came together and started to explore the galaxy, with the Vulcans’ help at first, we had our troubles. However, we overcame many obstacles to become a very prominent species in the galaxy. We did not set out to fix the galaxy’s problems or bring hope to those who needed it most. We set out to meet new species, explore strange new worlds and boldly go where no one had gone before, and we did just that. Meeting the Vulcans may have been our First Contact, but we met so many other species in our journeys – some bad, some good, some greedy, but most were just doing as we were, trying to better their species. Some used violence, others used diplomacy, and yet others used trade to get what they needed to further their species’ endeavors.

In our trials and journeys, we helped other species achieve peace with neighboring systems and worlds. We helped Vulcan and Andoria broker peace after years of suspicion and conflict. Peace between Tellar and Andoria was achieved as well. These 3 worlds and Earth came together to form the United Federation of Planets less than 100 years after First Contact, in 2161. The Federation would become the hopes and dreams of many worlds and species spread throughout the quadrant. The Federation is something that is bigger than its whole; in 2373 the Federation is made up of over 150 planets, as confirmed by Captain Picard in First Contact. At its height, it was comprised of 350 known worlds, as confirmed in Star Trek Discovery episode “Die Trying.” It didn’t matter how few or how many worlds were in the Federation; we worked together as a whole to try and better each other.

Whether you’re at the beginning, signing the first charter, in the middle fighting the Borg, or you’re 1,000 years in the future, helping to rebuild the Federation, it all comes down to hope. Earth’s First Contact with the Vulcans brought a war-torn planet hope. In turn, we helped bring hope to a galaxy and helped create a lasting peace and friendship among many diverse species.

In conclusion, the words First Contact bring hope to my heart, hope that one day, we will all be the people I know we can be. Hope that maybe one day, we can all just get along and accomplish our unimagined destiny. Until that day, I leave you with this; without First Contact, there would have never been a United Federation of Planets.

Live long and prosper, my friends.

LT Timmothy Epperson – Chief Science Officer – USS Tiburon