Yesterday, was the 30th anniversary of the death of Samantha Smith. In 1983, Smith, an American schoolgirl, wrote a letter to Yuri Andropov, the Soviet Prime Minister.
- Dear Mr. Andropov,
- My name is Samantha Smith. I am ten years old. Congratulations on your new job. I have been worrying about Russia and the United States getting into a nuclear war. Are you going to vote to have a war or not? If you aren’t please tell me how you are going to help to not have a war. This question you do not have to answer, but I would like to know why you want to conquer the world or at least our country. God made the world for us to live together in peace and not to fight.
- Samantha Smith
Andropov wrote her back and invited Smith to visit Russia. The trip received widespread news coverage and made Smith a Generation X icon. Sadly, she and her father were killed in a plane crash on August 25, 1985.
Sometimes, when I write about Generation X, I feel like I’m writing in the shadows of Smith. I wonder what she might have become — what she might say about 9/11 and ISIS and so many other things. She possibly wanted to become a freelance photographer or an actress. She was so beautiful with so much potential. And, I can’t believe she’s been gone 30 years.
Yesterday, the Maine State Museum in Augusta, Maine, opened an exhibit to pay tribute to Smith. “I think her story is as relevant as ever,” Laurie LaBar, chief curator of history and decorative arts for the Maine State Museum, said. “Particularly for people who may feel they don’t have any influence, a story like this is refreshing because it shows you can make a difference, if you speak the truth.”
Here are some wonderful photos of Samantha featured in the exhibit.
RIP Samantha. Young and sweet and forever 13.