A boy was born on March 22, 2233 in Riverside, Iowa, destined to become the youngest captain in Star Fleet history. Before he could boldly go where no man has gone before, he had to have a name.
The WWII fighter pilot and veteran of 89 combat missions Gene Roddenberry made 16 name suggestions on this date in 1965, among them Hannibal, Timber, Flagg, and Raintree.
Roddenberry decided on James T. Kirk, based on a journal entry of the 18th century British explorer, Captain James Cook: “ambition leads me … farther than any other man has been before me”.
Kirk was killed in 2329 on the Enterprise (B), after the ship was eaten by a Nexus energy ribbon on its maiden voyage. Only he didn’t die, because Jean-Luc Picard found him alive in the timeless Nexus, negotiating hotel deals for Priceline.com. Or something like that.
In his 1968 book “Making of Star Trek”, Gene Roddenberry says that James Kirk was born in a small town in Iowa. Full time Trekkie and part time Riverside Councilman Steve Miller thought “Why not Riverside”. In 1985 Miller moved that Riverside declare itself the Future Birthplace of James T. Kirk. The motion passed unanimously. The town’s slogan was changed from “Where the best begins” to “Where the Trek begins,” and the annual summer festival changed from “River Fest” to “Trek Fest”.
The Riverside connection became Holy Writ, when the 2009 film Star Trek identified the place as Kirk’s home town. There is a granite monument in Riverside, population 963, declaring itself to be the “Future Birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk.
In case you were ever curious about what the “T” stands for…its Tiberius.