I'd love to regale you with the history of the good ship Columbia. But she doesn't have any, yet. She's a brand-newly comissioned vessel, freshly delivered to Union Colony, and she's waiting there with her captian for a crew to make her go. As she aquires more history, of course, I'll write it down here...but she can't do that without a crew.
Before you read this next part, should you desire to, I'd like to ask that you take something into consideration. When I was notified that I would be taking command of the Columbia, I had misgivings. My last ship, the Defiant-class USS Liberator, was crippled in action by a suprise attack--to this day, nobody knows who they were or why they attacked her. I resolved that I would approach the far larger Columbia with a far greater seriousness than I did the Liberator. Do not allow what follows to frighten you off--these may be the things that I think about and hold dear, but I assure you, the Columbia is just a normal Starfleet vessel with a normal crew, so far as you can have either of thsoe be 'normal,' and I'm for the most part a normal young captan. I prefer to be largely informal and easygoing when the situation calls for it, that kind of thing. All of the things that you'll read after this point...they are what makes me the man that I am today, but they rarely factor into my day-to-day interactions.
Now that all of that is done, a few details about the Columbia:
Ship's Motto: "Fiat justitia, ruat caelum!" (Let justice be
done, though the sky may fall)
Ship's Anthem: Canon in D
Ship's Patron: those who came before
Ship's Standard: on black cloth, a simple stone cairn, veiwed lengthwise with a white cross at the other end, a helmet hanging on the top and a rifle leaning against it (those who know these things will recognize it as a US Army M-1 Garand Semiautomatic Caribine). About the cairn is mud, behind it the sun is setting on a blood-red sky. The cross reads "Unknown." Arcing above are the words "Always Remember" and below "Never Forget." Upon the stones rests a photograph side-by-side with a medal (those who know these things will recognize it as a US Medal of Honor). Lying legthwise across both is a single white rose, the blossom obscuring the picture on the photograph, but not the hand-drawn heart in the lower corner or the barely intelligable words 'all my love.' However, there is a hole near where the name should go, and it is obscured by a deep maroon stain.
I read the phrase that I eventually chose as the ship's motto of both the Liberator and later the Columbia in one of the historical texts that I studied in the Academy. At the time, the phrase registered as a very noble and laudable sentiment in my mind, but not as anything particularly special. It wasn't until later, after my first wartime experience (just one of thousands of personal tradgedies that all of us went through. In the grand, callus perspective that war grants us, barely even worth mentioning), that the phrase came back to me and stuck...for that was essentially what we of Starfleet were doing. Here we were, a fleet built and trained for defense, yes, but primarialy for exploration. That was our mandate, our clarion, our calling, our passion. But now we were called upon to fight rather than to explore...and what's more, to fight a fearsome and resilient foe whose leaders had more expereince in war and conquest than all of us put together, and whose soldiers were designed and bred from before they were conceived for only one purpose: to fight. Not just to fight, but to fight and WIN, every time. Yet there we stayed, loyal to the last, man after man, ship after ship, fleet after fleet marching into the valley of the shadow of death, to do the bitter, awful duty that nobody else but we would do. And, in the end, that is what we were saying...regardless of the odds, no matter the cost to ourselves personally or to Starfleet as a whole...though the sky might fall...we would keep resisting. To the last ship, the last phaser, the last man, Starfleet would have to be utterly obliterated in order for the Dominion to prevail...in order for justice to not be done.
Canon in D has always appealed to me. Even during the time in my life when I didn't like classical music, it touched something inside me, allowed me to just relax...occasionally brought tears to my eyes. Later on in life, again in the Academy, I ran across a historical footnote. You see...Canon in D was written to herald the return of soldiers from war. I could just picture it...the local ruler's orchestra would be playing the song...townspeople and nobles alike rubbing elbows, eager to see their fathers, brothers, sons, and grandsons returning home from abroad...and then, when I followed the index notation in the footnote, and read in more detail...when the armies returned, the...the dead would be at the head of the column. That was why the beginning of the song was slow and quiet...as it gets faster, louder...happier...the dead would pass...and those who survived their ordeal...a terrible, horrible thing that those who waited for them could never understand...they would pass. But what stuck with me was...it was the same scene, the same orchestra, the same people...but by the thousands...in carts and travois and whatever could be devised...the broken bodies of the dead soldiers...in many cases, they would be borne by their surviving comrades, there not being enough horses or mules to go around...passing...row by row...one by one...and somewhere in the crowd, someone...a freind, family member, now-widow...they would catch sight of a familiar face...excuse me. The image is with me to this day, and it remains a powerful one. When I was captian of the Liberator, I didn't want my ship to be a reflection of times and tragedies past. The war is over. We have marched into the very gates of Hell itself, and we have emerged again...victorious. The cost was high, and millions of our comrades marched in with us who never came out...going back after the bodies was almost never an option, even if there were bodies left behind. I wanted my ship, my first command, to be a harbinger of things to come--good things. When she was lost, I think...I think the transition was complete. I am no longer an explorer at heart, though I find that I can still accept and fulfill the mandate. Though the change is not apparent to others, I belive that all that was good and innocent and pure about myself died with Libbie. I still hold my ideals dear--to forsake them would be intolerable--and they are still what they were. But...I am older and wiser now, beyond my years, I think. I'm a soldier at heart, and whatever the next threat to the Federation might be, I am as prepared to face it as I am to face whatever is beyond the next star out...
Columbia's patron is a little unorthodox. It's part, I think, of the change that I've gone through. I feel now that I would be more fit to command, say, a Marine Transport than a Starfleet Starhip, but asking for a lateral tranfer, especially at my rank, is something I would never do. When I say the phrase 'those who came before,' I don't mean just our predecessors...specifically, I mean the predecessors of the wartime Fleet. Call me ethnocentric, but I feel most in touch with the history of my own race...hell, even to the point of specifically my place of origin on my homeworld. The history of the United States has always fascinated me, and in many ways I feel a kinship with the military men of that nation--right up until it ceased having its own standing military--that I can't quite feel for those of any other planet...though I still of course respect them. I veiw those brave men and women, though it might again sound ethnocentric, as the direct forebears of those of us who fought the War, and when I say 'those who came before,' it's those same men and women to which I refer.
The ship's standard...I went overboard on it, I know. All of it...when I was trying to think of what I wanted it to say, what I wanted it to look like, the broad strokes of that image sprung into my head...and as I wrote it down, the detail got finer and finer. As one could guess, that is the battlefeild grave of a fallen American soldier, more than likely from either World War One or early on in World War Two, given the weapon. I would explain the meaning of each of the symbols at length, but I feel that it's better to allow the readers to draw their own conclusions...I think we can all agree that it's a fairly loaded image, but it's the what that it's loaded with that's important. Everybody should have a slightly different reaction, and that's how it should be, after all...