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Ne’shau, Leonard Nimoy

Dif-tor heh smusma.

I was one of several hundred today who learned how to say ‘live long and prosper’ in the language of Vulcan.

It may have been more fitting to teach us ‘ne’shau’ or ‘welcome.’

The folks of Vulcan, Alta., welcomed Leonard Nimoy to their town, plastering signs of ‘welcome home’ hither and yon. Even the Vulcan Funeral Home played along, their windows emblazoned with pictures of Spock and welcome signs.

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You see, Nimoy – or the Godfather of Star Trek, as Vulcan Mayor Tom Grant called him – visited Vulcan for the first time in his 44 years of playing Spock, the logical first officer to Capt. James T. Kirk.

“Wait until Bill Shatner hears about this,” Nimoy said, surveying the crowd and poking fun at his colleague who filled the role of Kirk.

Nimoy is in Alberta for the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo at the BMO Roundup Centre. A short trip to Vulcan, loyal fans of the Star Trek franchise, was in order.

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He had a private showing of the Vulcan Tourism and Trek Centre and then was grand marshal of a parade through the very small downtown. He unveiled a bronze bust of himself, commissioned by the town, and imprinted his hands in the famous ‘live long and prosper’ sign for a future bronzing. He also received a key to the community and was told he is ‘welcome home’ at any time.

In exchange, he has loaned the tourism centre for one year his original Spock ears and the original cast photo, autographed by everyone in the first Star Trek TV series.

Grant called Nimoy’s visit an historic event for the little town founded in 1915. That’s right, it’s named for the Roman god of fire, not Spock’s lineage.

It has a rich history, based in grain elevators, the rail and even the British air force.

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But no part of its history is more important than its love affair with Star Trek.

And Spock recognized the significance of his visit.

“I have been a Vulcan for 44 years, so it’s time I came home,” Nimoy said to a round of cheers. “I’m proud of my character as Spock and Star Trek. It’s a hopeful story of the future and Spock is a role-model character who acts with dignity, professionalism and intelligence.”

The Spock character, he said, has presented opportunities to travel around the world, meeting fans and promoting the Star Trek series and space exploration. Ten days ago, he was inducted into the National Space Foundation Hall of Fame.

“I’ve had a lot of extraordinary experiences,” he said. “I’ve been very blessed. All I hoped was to be an actor and support my family …

“In all these experiences, I’ve never had one as touching as this today. I’m sorry it took so long to get here.”

It’s impossible to think Nimoy needed more words to endear himself to this crowd. Before his arrival, I listened to any number of Trekkies wax poetic on why Spock was their favourite character.

“Shatner is a traitor,” exclaimed Jennifer, the Star Fleet princess from Edmonton.

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“Yup, he didn’t want to be a part of the new movies because his part wasn’t big enough,” declared another Trekkie.

But they all nodded vigorously when Nimoy, who has announced his retirement from acting to pursue a photographic passion, endorsed his successor, Zachary Quinto.

“Take Zach to your heart,” Nimoy said. “He is a great Spock and will carry on the character with dignity and professionalism.”

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