Over its 46-year history, one person has been a touchstone and a guide for Star Trek fans. The person in that center seat on the bridge, the captain.
In the Original Series, Captain James T. Kirk commanded the starship Enterprise on a five-year mission to explore deep space and discover strange, new worlds. Kirk was a swaggering cowboy, a ladies’ man, but also an everyman. We saw the galaxy through his eyes, which, behind the bravado, were still filled with the wonder of the Iowa farm boy Kirk used to be.
Several generations later, Jean-Luc Picard captained the Enterprise-D in an era marked more by manners and reason. More diplomat than cowboy, Picard sought peaceful accords first, and always, as his crew explored themselves as much as they did the stars.
Originally placed in charge of a strategically placed space station, Benjamin Sisko was forced into a war against a far-reaching threat and had to use his calm demeanor, and accept his solemn destiny, to prevail against it.
Captain Kathryn Janeway’s U.S.S. Voyager, flung to the far side of known space, only returned home with her unwavering will and boundless ingenuity guiding, and sometimes pushing, it every step of the way.
And, before all of that, there was Jonathan Archer. As captain of the original starship Enterprise, he used a steady hand and an easy manner to help the Federation take its first steps into a larger universe.