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August 31, 2004


James Doohan, who played Scotty on "Star Trek" (it's possible you knew that already), received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Doohan, unfortunately, is ill with both Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

In 1996 I was working under Rick Rashid, who is a big Trekkie. We had a group meeting and he invited Doohan (who lives in the area) to attend, because he was "the world's best known engineer" (or something like that). Rashid and Doohan actually sat on stage and performed this fake dialogue about engineering. It was pretty hokey, and at one point Rashid read one of Doohan's lines off the Teleprompter (or maybe it was the other way around)...anyway the audience was shuffling around and looking at the ceiling and you felt sort of embarrassed for all concerned.

But at the end, Doohan put down his script and said, "I just want to say one thing." And he sat up straighter in his chair. And he said, "You know, I served in the Canadian army in World War II, and I was the first one off my boat at Normandy on D-Day, and there are not a lot of people alive who can say that." Everybody perked up instantly. And he talked, unscripted, just for 3 or 4 minutes, maybe, about what he thought was important in life. He wasn't talking any louder than he had been, but you could hear a pin drop in the place.

When he jumped off that boat he was 24 years old, just a few years younger than I was at the time. I remember feeling guilty, because we had been sort of laughing at him before, and we were a bunch of overprivileged geeks who had never had to fight a war, and we didn't really deserve to be in the same room with him. We had probably paid him a fee to show up, and that was wrong, we should be honoring him, not paying him to come up on stage and do his little dog-and-pony show with Rick Rashid. Luckily, he had enough dignity for everyone.

Posted by AdamBa at August 31, 2004 10:53 PM