Children in History
Samantha Reed Smith, America's Youngest Ambassador

Samantha Reed Smith, America's Youngest Ambassador
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.93

     challenging words:    anti-nuclear, compatriot, government-want, much-celebrated, weapons-terrible, goodwill, literature, wage, leadership, nuclear, personally, hosted, twentieth, university, writing, celebrity
     content words:    Soviet Union, United States, Soviet Secretary Yuri Andropov, Samantha Reed Smith, Queen Elizabeth II, Yuri Andropov, Samantha Smith, On April, Secretary Andropov, Tom Sawyer

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Samantha Reed Smith, America's Youngest Ambassador
By Joyce Furstenau

1     The term "cold war" is used to describe a time of political tensions between nations. A cold war existed between the Soviet Union and the United States for most of the twentieth century. The news media spoke often of the threat of nuclear war between the two countries. People in both countries worried about the possibilities of a real war. They wanted to bring an end to this tension. A little girl from Maine is remembered for her peacemaking attempts with Soviet Secretary Yuri Andropov during that time.
2     Samantha Reed Smith was born on June 29, 1972, in Houlton, Maine. Her father was a university professor. He taught literature and writing. Her mother was a social worker. Samantha became a letter writer at an early age. Samantha wrote a letter when she was only five to England's Queen Elizabeth II telling her she liked her. Her family moved to Manchester, Maine, the year Samantha finished second grade.
3     After Soviet political leader Leonid Brezhnev's death in 1982, Yuri Andropov became the Soviet Union's general secretary. Under his leadership, the cold war continued. His portrait was on the covers of news magazines all the time. Massive anti-nuclear protests were being held in America and around the world. Much of the distrust was directed at the Soviet Union. Samantha took notice of a Time magazine article about Mr. Andropov. 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?"
4     Her mother replied, "Why don't you?"
5     So, in November of 1982 when Samantha was in fifth grade, she wrote this letter to Yuri Andropov:

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