On April 25, 1983, Yuri Andropov, the Russian Leader of the Soviet Union, invited the fifth-grader Samantha Smith to visit the Soviet Union in response to a letter the young girl had sent to him in December 1982, asking if the Soviets were planning to start a nuclear war with the United States.
Answering the young girl’s question about whether he would want to prevent a nuclear war, Andropov wrote, “Yes, Samantha, we in the Soviet Union are endeavoring and doing everything so that there will be no war between our two countries so that there will be no war at all on earth.”
On July 1, 1983, Samantha Smith accepted Andropov’s invitation and visited the Soviet Union with her parents. Her visit attracted extensive media attention and she immediately became an international celebrity and peace ambassador.
Unfortunately, the two protagonists of this story did not live long after their meeting. In February 1984, Yuri Andropov died from kidney failure and a year later, in August 1985, Samantha Smith died in a plane crash at the age of 13.
Watch a clip of the news coverage of the day.