(June 29, 1972 - August 25, 1985)
There are a lot of female heroes and inspirational leaders out there in the world. Although most are admirable and have performed actions that resonated through history, many of them made their impacts later on in life; or well into their younger adult years. A number of them (just like 'heroes' of any gender, really) have an accomplishment that was limited to one part of the world, or were ushered in mostly by their peers. My question is this - what, exactly, did these people do when they were still children?
Did they, for instance, make a major contribution in stopping the cold war?
At the age of 10?
A good way to envision the US and the USSR in the eighties was, well, that both sides hated each other with such passion that they were boycotting each other in the Olympics. Basically, the situation was tense; one could almost say that the nukes on the two sides were the only thing keeping the two powers from outright going to war with each other. Still, there probably aren't very many people in the United States that think of the Russian leadership as anything more than warmongers and evil overlords. For reference, think about your opinion of terrorists or Kim Jong-Il are today, and...yeah, that's about what it's like.
Samantha did one thing when she was 10. She asked her mother 'why does Russia want to start a war?', and then wrote a letter to the Soviet Union's new president, Yuri Andropov. This was the letter:
Samantha Price's letter wrote:
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.
It was something very simple, but Andropov responded to the letter; he invited Samantha to the Soviet Union as a special guest, and from there, she started dismantling the hostility between the two nations. She didn't do anything grand - she simply chose to stay with Russian children rather than in the accommodations provided to her; she befriended Russian kids, learning not only Russian culture but also that the very children of the USSR, like the children of the US, did not want a war to happen.
She brought all of this insight back to the United States through the media's eyes and became an American ambassador, visiting Japan in 1983 and proposed what would quickly become a foreign exchange program between the US and the USSR. She wrote a book about her experiences, and went on multiple media outlets to exclaim that the Soviet people were 'just like us'. She eventually died from a plane crash at the age of 13, and became a champion of peace in Moscow with Gorbachev and Reagan themselves honoring her passing with their own messages of condolences.
In short, Samantha Price was the girl that paved the way for the end of the Cold War, and she did it all at the age of 10. She might not be astonishingly wealthy, gifted with a scientific mind, or had been backed by great military might, but she showed us how one person and a single letter could, quite literally, change the world.