On Monday, June 5th, the Maine chapter of Veterans For Peace honored the life and legacy of the late Samantha Smith at the Best Western Merry Manor Inn in South Portland. Over a year in the making, the event featured speakers, poets, politicians and entertainment, and culminated with a road dedication ceremony officially naming a nearby road, the Samantha Smith Way.
With over 60 people in attendance, VFP member Don Kimball, the Master of Ceremonies for the event, started the morning with a land acknowledgement and a thank you to everyone who helped make Samantha Smith Day a reality. The audience was then treated to 10 speakers featuring VFP members Erik Herter, Doug Rawlings, Dud Hendricks, Robert Shetterly, and Suzanne Hedrick. South Portland Mayor Kate Lewis and State Senator Anne Carney also spoke about how important it was to remember Samantha who, had she lived, would have turned 51 on June 29th. It was Senator Carney who carried the legislation for Samantha Smith Way successfully through the last session of the State Legislature. The audience was also treated to a violin solo by 13 year-old South Portland resident Madeline Mayo, and an inspiring speech by another 13 year old, Cecilia Smith (no relation). Cecilia had also previously spoken in Augusta before the Senate Transportation Committee advocating the Samantha Smith Way which was eventually signed by Governor Janet Mills. The morning concluded with an unveiling of a new traffic sign honoring Samantha as spectators cheered and the media filmed the memorable occasion. Maine VFP can be proud of a successful event that raised awareness about a young woman who died at age 13, but truly made a difference with her pleas for peace between the United States and Russia that still ring true today.
Left to right: Martin Ray, John Schchardt, State Senator Anne Carney, South Portland Mayor Kate Lewis
State Senator Anne Carney
Video of the Samantha Way Dedication and Ceremony