Samantha Smith Courtesy of Don Kimball

Samantha Smith Day is to be celebrated on June 5 at 10 a.m. at the Best Western Merry Manor Inn, 700 Main St. in South Portland. The public is invited to the event, which is being held by Maine Veterans for Peace, Tom Sturtevant Chapter 1. Veterans for Peace is a nonprofit organization of veterans and non-veteran allies that works for peace, both at home and abroad.

Samantha Smith (June 29, 1972 – August 25, 1985) was a peace activist and activist from Manchester, Maine. She became famous for her anti-war activism during the Cold War between the United States and the former Soviet Union. In 1982, Smith wrote a letter to Yuri Andropov, the general secretary of the Communist party of the USSR. Smith received a personal reply with an invitation to the Kremlin, which she and her family accepted. She became known as a Goodwill Ambassador and with her father wrote the book “Journey to the Soviet Union.” Smith died at the age of 13 in a plane crash in Maine.

In 1987, the Maine legislature passed a bill creating Samantha Smith Day on the first Monday of June every year.

The event in South Portland will be held in the Wildwood Ballroom in the inn. “It will feature local politicians, poets, teachers, and entertainers who will remember ‘Maine’s Youngest Diplomat,’” said Don Kimball, a Veterans for Peace member and organizer of the event.

“The ceremony will conclude with the unveiling of Samantha Smith Way at the intersection of US Route 1 and the Maine Turnpike Approach (exit 45) off of the Maine Turnpike, adjacent to the Best Western Merry Manor Inn,” Kimball said.

Visitors include the artist honorary Veterans for Peace member Robert Shetterly, the founder of Americans Who Tell The Truth.


“Robert has been painting the portraits of people like Samantha who have fought for social, economic, environmental, racial, and peace and justice issues,” Kimball said. Shetterly painted Smith’s portrait in 2004.

Other visitors include Rob Kelly, assistant professor at the School of International Services, American University, who “uses Samantha’s work for peace as an example to be followed in helping students understand their role in being a global citizen,” Kimball said.

Doug Rawlins, a Vietnam veteran, president of the Maine Chapter of Veterans for Peace, and professor at the University of Maine at Farmington, will speak at the event.

“In this time when many choose to falsely divide generations along stereotypical lines, this day provides us with an opportunity to celebrate all people who work for peace by acknowledging the power of one person who dared to cross national boundaries and reach out to another person,” Rawlins said.

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