samantha reed smith

Samantha Reed Smith: Why she kicks ass

  • She was an American schoolgirl, peace activist and child actress from Manchester, Maine, who became famous in the Cold War era United States and Soviet Union.
  • In 1982, she wrote a letter to the newly appointed CPSU General Secretary Yuri Andropov, and received a personal reply which included a personal invitation to visit the Soviet Union, which she accepted.
  • Smith attracted extensive media attention in both countries as a “Goodwill Ambassador”, and became known as “America’s Youngest Ambassador” participating in peacemaking activities in Japan. 
  • She wrote a book about her visit to the Soviet Union and co-starred in the television series Lime Street, before her death at the age of 13 in the Bar Harbor Airlines Flight 1808 plane crash.
  • On July 7, 1983, she flew to Moscow with her parents, and spent two weeks as Andropov’s guest. During the trip she visited Moscow and Leningrad and spent time in Artek, the main Soviet pioneer camp, in the town of Gurzuf on the Crimean Peninsula. She wrote in her book that in Leningrad she and her parents were amazed by the friendliness of the people and by the presents many people made for them. Speaking at a Moscow press conference, she declared that the Russians were “just like us”.
  •  In Artek, Smith chose to stay with the Soviet children rather than take the privileged accommodation offered to her. For ease of communication, teachers and children with fluent English were chosen to stay in the building where she was lodged. Smith shared a dormitory with nine other girls, and spent her time there swimming, talking and learning Russian songs and dances. 
  • Smith also received a phone call from Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to orbit the Earth. However, not realizing with whom she was speaking, Samantha mistakenly hung up after only a brief conversation. 
  • In December 1983, continuing in her role as “America’s Youngest Ambassador”, she was invited to Japan, where she met with the Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone and attended the Children’s International Symposium in Kobe.
  • In her speech at the symposium, she suggested that Soviet and American leaders exchange granddaughters for two weeks every year, arguing that a president “wouldn’t want to send a bomb to a country his granddaughter would be visiting”. Her trip inspired other exchanges of child goodwill ambassadors, including a visit by the eleven-year-old Soviet child Katya Lycheva to the United States.
  • In 2008, Samantha Smith posthumously received the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award for helping to bring about better understanding between the peoples of the United States of America (USA) and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), and as a result, reduce the tension between the superpowers that were poised to engage in nuclear war.