Thank You for today. I am happy to share with you a story about my first American friend. Remembering my Soviet school years is impossible about this story.
As you know my school years (1981 – 1991) were the years of the Cold war between USA and USSR.
If we wish to create a lasting peace, if we want to fight a war against war, we must begin with the children. Mahatma Gandhi’s words mirrors the ambivalent situation Soviet children were in. From the one side we knew about USA as the worst enemy, from the other side we all had had an American friend we adored by whole heart. We loved Samantha Smith.
When Yuri Andropov succeeded Leonid Brezhnev as leader of the Soviet Union in November 1982, the mainstream Western newspapers and magazines ran numerous front-page photographs and negative articles about him. When Samantha Smith viewed the edition of Time magazine, she asked her mother, “If people are so afraid of him, why doesn’t someone write a letter asking whether he wants to have a war or not?”. Her mother replied, “Why don’t you?”
Dear Mr. Andropov,
My name is Samantha Smith. I am ten years old. Congratulations on your new job. I have been worrying about Russia and the United States getting into a nuclear war. Are you going to vote to have a war or not? If you aren’t please tell me how you are going to help to not have a war. This question you do not have to answer, but I would like to know why you want to conquer the world or at least our country. God made the world for us to live together in peace and not to fight.
On July 7, 1983, she flew to Moscow with her parents, and spent two weeks as Andropov’s guest. From today’s my point of view I think her visit were unimaginably influential for every Soviet child because she was from a different planet. You see on the cartoon that it seems the Soviet Union was even from different biological spice.
She is Angel. She had changed our Destiny forever. Because of her the doubts were born. “Why are USA our worst enemy? Samantha in from USA and she is a friend” we were thinking learning English intensively. “Why intensively?” you can ask. The Soviet Ministry of Education created a special linguistic school where foreign language was compulsory from the first grade (6-7 y.o.) after Samantha’s visit.
We were grateful for her gift to open our eyes. America was not our enemy.
She died on August 25, 1985. Could you imagine the mourning day devoted to Samantha at the 1st September, 1985, in every Soviet school, in the official Knowledge Day?! We were crying and writing a letter of condolence to Samantha’s mother by whole class. I remember that moment, even now I am writing with tears in my eyes.
In 1985 the Soviet Post issued a commemorative stamp with her likeness. In 1986, when Soviet astronomer Lyudmila Chernykh discovered asteroid 3147, she named it 3147 Samantha. It was the precedent.
The wind of Her angel’s wings has begun creating a new melody of our ways… We all are connected, the butterfly effect works.
Thank you for your being in my life. We are influencing on each other and from this very point we are going to be happier and kinder than we were a moment ago. I am grateful for you change my Way.