The Bangor Daily news has featured reporter Emily Burnham's story about Samantha Smith: "This plucky Maine girl tried to unite US and Russia before nuclear bombs consumed the world."
Following her retelling Samantha's story, Burnham reflects:
"After the Soviet Union fell in 1991, relations between the U.S. and Russia thawed dramatically. But in more recent years they’ve soured again, especially since the Russian annexation of the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine in 2014, and the Russian interference with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Now, with the invasion of Ukraine, the world seems to have slid backward into a situation that much more closely resembles the world Smith lived in — strengthening old alliances between the U.S. and Europe in the process, and inspiring a global outcry against Russian aggression.
"It’s hard to imagine a plucky Maine kid writing a letter to Vladimir Putin, and receiving such a response from him, let alone an invitation to visit Russia. It’s hard to imagine a 10-year-old even writing a letter at all.
"But kids — even if they prefer TikTok to pen and paper — still ask questions about the scary things going on in the world, whether climate change, war, racism or the pandemic. Adults do too, even if they are sometimes less able to distill those questions down to the fundamentals, as Smith was able to.
"War is still a specter that haunts every corner of the world, and is a horrific reality. And kids are still kids, with the potential to see beyond the noise, violence and chatter, and simply ask why it has to be this way — like Samantha Smith did, 40 years ago."