Samantha Reed Smith
(June 29, 1972-August 25, 1985)
"Actually, the whole thing started when I asked my mother if there was going to be a war. There was always something on television about missiles and nuclear bombs. Once I watched a science show on public television and the scientists said that a nuclear war would wreck the Earth and destroy the atmosphere. Nobody would win a nuclear war. I remembered that I woke up one morning and wondered if this was going to be the last day of the Earth.
I asked my mother who would start a war and why. She showed me a news magazine with a story about America and Russia, one that had a picture of the new Russian leader, Yuri Andropov, on the cover. We read it together. It seemed that the people in both Russia and America were worried that the other country would start a nuclear war. It all seemed so dumb to me. I had learned about the awful things that had happened during World War II, so I thought that nobody would ever want to have another war. I told Mom that she should write to Mr. Andropov to find out who was causing all the trouble. She said, "Why don't you write to him?" So I did."
When Samantha Smith was killed in a plane crash on August 25, 1985, millions of people all over the world grieved as if for their own child. For, in a way, she was a child of the world - a symbol of childhood itself, a guardian of our dreams and hopes for children everywhere. The heads of the two most powerful nations on earth sent the following condolences to Samantha's mother, Jane.
"Everyone in the Soviet Union who has known Samantha Smith will forever remember the image of the American girl who, like millions of Soviet young men and women, dreamt about peace, and about friendship between the peoples of the United States and the Soviet Union." -- Mikhail Gorbachev
"Perhaps you can take some measure of comfort in the knowledge that millions of Americans, indeed millions of people, share the burdens of your grief. They also will cherish and remember Samantha, her smile, her idealism and unaffected sweetness of spirit." -- Ronald Reagan