Tuesday, February 26, 2013

All About Everything - Week Of February 26, 2013

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Samantha Reed Smith (June 29, 1972 – August 25, 1985) was an American schoolgirl, peace activist and child actress from Manchester, Maine, who became famous in the Cold War era United States and Soviet Union. In 1982, Smith wrote a letter to the newly appointed CPSU General Secretary Yuri Andropov, and received a personal reply which included a personal invitation to visit the Soviet Union, which she accepted.

Smith attracted extensive media attention in both countries as a "Goodwill Ambassador", and became known as "America's Youngest Ambassador" participating in peacemaking activities in Japan.[1] She wrote a book about her visit to the Soviet Union and co-starred in the television series Lime Street, before her death at the age of 13 in the Bar Harbor Airlines Flight 1808 plane crash.


A few years ago while going through old kids' books at the library, I came across an article about this girl, Samantha. She became famous in the early 80's for her goodwill ventures to the Soviet Union. She was interviewed by Johnny Carson and Ted Koppel. She hosted a TV special and wrote a book. She then began filming a TV series. And then, all of a sudden, she was dead at thirteen years old. 

And all those things are intriguing enough, but the weirdest thing of all? I'd never even heard of her.

Sure, this all happened when I was in preschool. It's not like her ambassadorship/fame/death was relevant to me at that age, even if I had heard people speaking of it (which I don't know as I did.) But I still think it's strange how some people get remembered -- on a national or even worldwide level -- and others don't. I think of another person who worked for peace and died tragically -- Martin Luther King Jr. We celebrate his birthday every year and some of us even get the day off (thanks, Martin!). And yeah, I think he's totally worthy of it all, but why just him? The Presidents of the United States have to all share a day, and Martin gets his own holiday? Seriously, are there any other people that get their own holiday in the U.S.? (Besides, you know, Jesus?) 

Leave a comment if you know.

I think of other notable humanitarians -- Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi. They're household names. They are, or will be, remembered. And what about Anne Frank? She, too, was a young teenager when she tragically died, and even 70 years after her death, people travel to Amsterdam to see where she lived. Granted, her diary is inspiring and wonderfully written, but... why her? She was one of millions of Holocaust victims. I can't name many of the others.

So who gets remembered? And why? Can one human really more worthy of "being remembered" than another? Does it have something to do with their popularity while alive? Their achievements? How often the media drags their name back into the spotlight? Take Marilyn Monroe. She's not going to make any Best Actress lists. Most people can't name any of her films. But she's freaking famous, years and years after her death, because certain people keep pushing her back into the limelight. Why was it a big tragic deal when Heath Ledger died, but not when Brad Renfro, another young Tiger Beat cover-gracing actor, died around the same time? Because The Dark Knight was coming out? Because....?

Well, who knows. What I do know is Samantha Smith did great things in her young life that are worthy of recognition. I will remember her, even if few other people do.

Here's to you, Samantha....

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