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Back in the Day: US teenager revives Cold War diplomacy


Back in the Day

Back in the Day: US teenager revives Cold War diplomacy

July 7, 1983. Samantha Smith, a 11-year-old American student, flies with her family to Moscow, upon the personal invitation of Soviet Communist Part leader Yuri Andropov. In November 1982, Smith wrote a letter to Andropov, the newly appointed General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In the letter, she expressed her concern regarding a potential nuclear war while trying to understand why the relationship between her country and the USSR was so complicated. Her letter was then published in the newspaper “Pravda.” On April 25, 1983, Andropov personally replied and invited her to the communist country during the summer. She spend two weeks there, visiting Moscow, Leningrad and the international children’s camp of Artek, where she lived with Soviet children. She then became the “Goodwill Ambassador” for the United States in the USSR. She became something of a celebrity upon her return to the US and wrote a book of her experience entitled “Journey to the Soviet Union.” She died in 1985 at the age of 13 in a plane accident in the United States. Eulogies from US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev were read at her funeral.

Also on July 7: Chillicothe Baking Company produces sliced bread for the first time (1928); Elvis Presley makes his debut on radio (1954); Boris Becker becomes the youngest Wimbledon champion at the age of 17 (1985).

Born on July 7: Marc Chagall (1887), Richard Starkey, aka Ringo Starr (1940), Bérénice Bejo (1976), Mahendra Singh Dhoni (1981).

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