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Road renamed to honor Cold War peace icon Samantha Smith

The unveiling was part of annual celebrations in Smith's honor held in South Portland on Monday.

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — In Maine, since 1987, the first Monday in June is designated as "Samantha Smith Day."

The young Manchester girl captivated audiences in America and the Soviet Union when, at 10 years old in 1982, she wrote to Soviet Premier Yuri Andropov, asking why he wanted to conquer the world. 

Andropov replied, writing the Soviets did not want war, and he invited Smith and her family to visit Russia.

More than 40 years later, the annual ceremonies honoring her legacy of peace continue. On Monday, lawmakers, members of the Maine chapter of Veterans for Peace, and others walked out of a hotel conference room into the rain to dedicate a busy Maine Turnpike onramp in South Portland as “Samantha Smith Way.” 

Maine Veterans for Peace President Doug Rawlings believed the dedication is more about visibility than the simple gesture.

"Somebody coming from out of state and, all of a sudden, they see this sign: 'Samantha Smith Way. Who’s Samantha Smith?', [and then] read about her," Rawlings said. "So, that’s what we want to do. We want to get it into the schools. We want kids to realize the power of peace and nonviolent direct action."

The sign dedication came about because state bill LD 21, sponsored by Sen. Anne Carney, of Cumberland, was enacted as law on March 29. The bill proposed to dedicate a Maine Turnpike ramp to Smith.

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