Samantha Smith with the letter she received from Soviet leader Yuri Andropov. Contributed / Don Kimball

The Maine Chapter of Veterans For Peace will recognize Samantha Smith Day Monday by naming part of U.S. Route 1 in South Portland in her honor.

The portion of Route 1 from the Maine Turnpike spur south to the Scarborough town line is currently nameless. Samantha Smith Way will be dedicated during a ceremony at 10 a.m. at the Best Western Merry Manor Inn at 700 Main St.

Samantha Smith of Manchester, Maine, was a young peace activist who became world famous in 1982 when at age 10 she wrote a letter to Yuri Andropov, leader of the Soviet Union, asking him what he would do to prevent a nuclear war with the United States. He invited her to visit the Soviet Union, and in 1983 she and her parents made the trip.

“Our chapter of Veterans For Peace works very diligently to achieve world peace like Samantha did,” said Don Kimball, a board member of the nonprofit from South Portland. “We came together and said, ‘Let’s have a celebration of her … let’s see if we can get a road dedicated to her.'”

Smith died in a plane crash in Maine in 1985 at age 13. Two years later, the state declared the first Monday in June as Samantha Smith Day in Maine.

“I was working as an air traffic controller when she died. I’m also a private pilot and I’m also an anti-nuclear activist,” Kimball said, which is why her story resonated with him.


Smith’s legacy is important to immortalize as it can be inspiring for young people, Kimball said, especially young girls.

“Anything we can do to help give the younger generation hope is a positive,” he said. “It’s about inspiring them with Samantha’s legacy.”

Guest speakers at the dedication ceremony Monday will include state Sen. Anne Carney, South Portland Mayor Kate Lewis, Veterans For Peace member and artist Robert Shetterly, who painted a portrait of Smith, and Rob Kelly, an assistant professor at American University, Kimball said.

Doors will open at 9:30 a.m. and the ceremony begins at 10 a.m. Visitors are asked to enter through the lodging establishment’s ballroom.

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