Posts Tagged ‘Samantha Smith

25
Apr
09

On This Day, April 25: Yuri Andropov

April 25, 1983

Andropov writes to an American fifth-grader

The Soviet Union releases a letter that Russian leader Yuri Andropov wrote to Samantha Smith, an American fifth-grader. This rather unusual piece of Soviet propaganda was in direct response to President Ronald Reagan’s vigorous attacks on what he called “the evil empire” of the Soviet Union.

In 1983, President Reagan was in the midst of a harsh rhetorical campaign against the Soviet Union. A passionate anticommunist, President Reagan called for massive increases in U.S. defense spending to meet the perceived Soviet threat. In Russia, however, events were leading to a different Soviet approach to the West. In 1982, long-time leader Leonid Brezhnev died; Yuri Andropov was his successor. While Andropov was not radical in his approach to politics and economics, he did seem to sincerely desire a better relationship with the United States. In an attempt to blunt the Reagan attacks, the Soviet government on released a letter that Andropov had written in response to one sent by Samantha Smith, a fifth-grade student from Manchester, Maine.

Smith had written the Soviet leader as part of a class assignment, one that was common enough for students in the Cold War years. Most of these missives received a form letter response, if any at all, but Andropov answered Smith’s letter personally. He explained that the Soviet Union had suffered horrible losses in World War II, an experience that convinced the Russian people that they wanted to “live in peace, to trade and cooperate with all our neighbors on the globe, no matter how close or far away they are, and, certainly, with such a great country as the United States of America.” In response to Smith’s question about whether the Soviet Union wished to prevent nuclear war, Andropov declared, “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. This is the wish of everyone in the Soviet Union. That’s what we were taught to do by Vladimir Lenin, the great founder of our state.” He vowed that Russia would “never, but never, be the first to use nuclear weapons against any country.” Andropov complimented Smith, comparing her to the spunky character of Becky from the Mark Twain novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. “All kids in our country, boys and girls alike, know and love this book,” he added. Andropov ended by inviting Samantha and her parents to visit the Soviet Union. In July 1983, Samantha accepted the invitation and flew to Russia for a three-week tour.

Soviet propaganda had never been known for its human qualities. Generally speaking, it was given to heavy-handed diatribes and communist cliches. In his public relations duel with Reagan-the American president known as the “Great Communicator”-Andropov tried something different by assuming a folksy, almost grandfatherly approach. Whether this would have borne fruit is unknown; just a year later, Andropov died. Tragically, Samantha Smith, aged 13, died just one year after Andropov’s passing, in August 1985 in a plane crash.

“Andropov writes to an American fifth-grader,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2648 [accessed Apr 25, 2009]

On This Day

1792 – The guillotine was first used to execute highwayman Nicolas J. Pelletier.

1846 – The Mexican-American War ignited as a result of disputes over claims to Texas boundaries. The outcome of the war fixed Texas‘ southern boundary at the Rio Grande River.

1859 – Work began on the Suez Canal in Egypt.

1862 – Union Admiral Farragut occupied New Orleans, LA.

1864 – After facing defeat in the Red River Campaign, Union General Nathaniel Bank returned to Alexandria, LA.

1898 – The U.S. declared war on Spain. Spain had declared war on the U.S. the day before.

1915 – During World War I, Australian and New Zealand troops landed at Gallipoli in Turkey in hopes of attacking the Central Powers from below. The attack was unsuccessful.

1952 – After a three-day fight against Chinese Communist Forces, the Gloucestershire Regiment was annihilated on “Gloucester Hill,” in Korea.

1959 – St. Lawrence Seaway opened to shipping. The water way connects the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean.

1962 – The U.S. spacecraft, Ranger, crashed on the Moon.

1971 – The country of Bangladesh was established.

1980 – In Iran, a commando mission to rescue hostages was aborted after mechanical problems disabled three of the eight helicopters involved. During the evacuation, a helicopter and a transport plan collided and exploded. Eight U.S. servicemen were killed. The mission was aimed at freeing American hostages that had been taken at the U.S. embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979. The event took place April 24th Washington, DC, time.

1983 – The Pioneer 10 spacecraft crossed Pluto’s orbit, speeding on its endless voyage through the Milky Way.

1990 – The U.S. Hubble Space Telescope was placed into Earth’s orbit. It was released by the space shuttle Discovery.

April 25, 1945

Americans and Russians link up, cut Germany in two

On this day in 1945, eight Russian armies completely encircle Berlin, linking up with the U.S. First Army patrol, first on the western bank of the Elbe, then later at Torgau. Germany is, for all intents and purposes, Allied territory.

The Allies sounded the death knell of their common enemy by celebrating. In Moscow, news of the link-up between the two armies resulted in a 324-gun salute; in New York, crowds burst into song and dance in the middle of Times Square. Among the Soviet commanders who participated in this historic meeting of the two armies was the renowned Russian Marshal Georgi K. Zhukov, who warned a skeptical Stalin as early as June 1941 that Germany posed a serious threat to the Soviet Union. Zhukov would become invaluable in battling German forces within Russia (Stalingrad and Moscow) and without. It was also Zhukov who would demand and receive unconditional surrender of Berlin from German General Krebs less than a week after encircling the German capital. At the end of the war, Zhukov was awarded a military medal of honor from Great Britain.

“Americans and Russians link up, cut Germany in two,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=6433 [accessed Apr 25, 2009]

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25
Aug
08

On This Day, 8-25-2008: Council of Nicaea

Council of Nicaea concludes

The Council of Nicaea, the first ecumenical debate held by the early Christian church, concludes with the establishment of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Convened by Roman Emperor Constantine I in May, the council also deemed the Arian belief of Christ as inferior to God as heretical, thus resolving an early church crisis.

The controversy began when Arius, an Alexandrian priest, questioned the full divinity of Christ because, unlike God, Christ was born and had a beginning. What began as an academic theological debate spread to Christian congregations throughout the empire, threatening a schism in the early Christian church. Roman Emperor Constantine I, who converted to Christianity in 312, called bishops from all over his empire to resolve the crisis and urged the adoption of a new creed that would resolve the ambiguities between Christ and God.

Meeting at Nicaea in present-day Turkey, the council established the equality of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in the Holy Trinity and asserted that only the Son became incarnate as Jesus Christ. The Arian leaders were subsequently banished from their churches for heresy. The Emperor Constantine presided over the opening of the council and contributed to the discussion.

“Council of Nicaea concludes.” 2008. The History Channel website. 25 Aug 2008, 12:31 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5289.

 

The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried, and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father. And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end.

And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets. And we believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. And we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Arianism:

Arius, though he did not come straight down from the Gnostic, pursued a line of argument and taught a view which the speculations of the Gnostic had made familiar. He described the Son as a second, or inferior God, standing midway between the First Cause and creatures; as Himself made out of nothing, yet as making all things else; as existing before the worlds of the ages; and as arrayed in all divine perfections except the one which was their stay and foundation. God alone was without beginning, unoriginate; the Son was originated, and once had not existed. For all that has origin must begin to be.

Such is the genuine doctrine of Arius. Using Greek terms, it denies that the Son is of one essence, nature, or substance with God; He is not consubstantial (homoousios) with the Father, and therefore not like Him, or equal in dignity, or co-eternal, or within the real sphere of Deity.

Source:  http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01707c.htm

In discussing Arianism the phrase that always seems to escape logic is “For all that has origin must begin to be.”  In my mind and perhaps in Arius’ mind, though I cannot presume to think as he thought, everything has to have had an origin.  Does this also include God?  If God had an origin then something other than God begat God.  Dangerous doubts within the early church caused much arguing among the high scholars of the time.  Branded as heretics the fate of Arius’ followers, like so many other people who throughout history opposed the Roman Catholic Church, was persecution.

 

On This Day

1941 – Soviet and British troops invaded Iran. This was in reaction to the Shah’s refusal to reduce the number of German residents.

1941 – Allied forces invaded Iran. Within four days the Soviet Union and England controlled Iran.

1978 – The Turin shroud believed to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ went on display for the first time in 45 years.

1987 – Saudi Arabia denounced the “group of terrorists” that ran the Iranian government.

1988 – Iran and Iraq began talks in Geneva after ending their eight years of war.

1990 – Military action was authorized by the United Nations to enforce the trade embargo that had been placed on Iraq after their invasion of Kuwait.

1993 – Amy Biehl was killed in South Africa by a mob.

1993 – Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman was indicted by a federal grand jury for terrorist activities, one of which was the World Trade Center bombing.

1995 – Harry Wu, human rights activist, returned to the United States. He said the spying case against him in China was “all lies.”

 

Samantha Smith dies in plane crash

Samantha Smith, the 13-year-old “ambassador” to the Soviet Union, dies in a plane crash. Smith was best known for writing to Soviet leader Yuri Andropov in 1982 and visiting the Soviet Union as Andropov’s guest in 1983.

In late 1982, Smith, a fifth-grader at Manchester Elementary School in Manchester, Maine, wrote a plaintive letter to Soviet leader Andropov. She said that she was “worrying about Russia and the United States getting into a nuclear war. Are you going to have a war or not?” A few months later, Smith’s letter was reprinted in Russia and it was announced that Andropov was writing a response. Smith received his letter in April 1983. Andropov assured Smith that he did not want a nuclear war with the United States or any other country. Calling Smith a “courageous and honest” little girl, Andropov closed the letter with an invitation for her to visit the Soviet Union. In July, accompanied by her parents, Smith embarked on a two-week trip. She was a hit in the Soviet Union, and although she did not get to meet with Andropov, she traveled widely and spoke to numerous groups and people. In the United States, some people branded her as a patsy for the communists and claimed that Soviet propagandists were merely using her for their own purposes, but Samantha’s enthusiasm and contagious optimism charmed most Americans and millions of other people around the world. During the next two years, Smith became an unofficial U.S. goodwill ambassador, speaking to groups throughout the United States and in foreign nations such as Japan. On August 25, 1985, while traveling with her father, their small plane crashed and both were killed.

Smith’s legacy lived on, however. Her mother began the Samantha Smith Foundation, which has as its goal bringing people from different nations and cultures together to share their experiences. In particular, the foundation established a student exchange program with the Soviet Union. In the Soviet Union, news of Smith’s death was met with great sadness. The Russian government responded by issuing a stamp in her honor and naming a mountain after the young girl.

“Samantha Smith dies in plane crash.” 2008. The History Channel website. 25 Aug 2008, 12:31 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2770.

Start every day with a smile and get it over with.
– W. C. Fields

07
Jul
08

On This Day, 7-7-08: William Blount

The impeachment of Senator Blount

For the first time in U.S. history, the House of Representatives exercises its constitutional power of impeachment and votes to charge Senator William Blount of Tennessee with “a high misdemeanor, entirely inconsistent with his public duty and trust as a Senator.”

In 1790, President George Washington appointed Blount, who had fought in the American Revolution, as governor of the “Territory South of the River Ohio,” now known as Tennessee. Although he was a successful territorial governor, personal financial problems led him to enter into a conspiracy with British officers to enlist frontiersmen and Cherokee Indians to assist the British in conquering parts of Spanish Florida and Louisiana. Before the conspiracy was uncovered, Blount presided over the Tennessee Constitutional Convention and in 1796 became the state’s first U.S. senator.

The plot was revealed in 1797, and on July 7 the House of Representatives voted to impeach Senator Blount. The next day, the Senate voted by a two-thirds majority to expel him from its ranks. On December 17, 1798, the Senate exercised its “sole power to try all impeachments,” as granted by the Constitution, and initiated a Senate trial against Blount. As vice president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson was president of the Senate and thus presided over the impeachment trial proceedings. After two months, Jefferson and the Senate decided to dismiss the charges against Blount, determining that the Senate had no jurisdiction over its own members beyond its constitutional right to expel members by a two-thirds majority vote. By the time of the dismissal, Blount had already been elected as a senator to the Tennessee state legislature, where he was appointed speaker. The constitutional conundrum of conducting a trial of an impeached senator has not yet been resolved.

“The impeachment of Senator Blount.” 2008. The History Channel website. 6 Jul 2008, 02:58 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5157.

1754 – Kings College opened in New York City. It was renamed Columbia College 30 years later.

1846 – U.S. annexation of California was proclaimed at Monterey after the surrender of a Mexican garrison.

1862 – The first railroad post office was tested on the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad in Missouri.

1898 – The United States annexed Hawaii.

1917 – Aleksandr Kerensky formed a provisional government in Russia.

1930 – Construction began on Boulder Dam, later Hoover Dam, on the Colorado River.

1937 – Japanese forces invaded China.

1981 – U.S. President Reagan announced he was nominating Arizona Judge Sandra Day O’Connor to become the first female justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

2005 – In London, at least 66 people were killed and at least 700 were injured when several bombs were set off in subway cars and double-decker buses.

Mary Surratt is first woman executed by U.S. federal government

Mary Surratt is executed by the U.S. government for her role as a conspirator in Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.

Surratt, who owned a tavern in Surrattsville (now Clinton), Maryland, had to convert her row house in Washington, D.C., into a boardinghouse as a result of financial difficulties. Located a few blocks from Ford’s Theatre, where Lincoln was murdered, this house served as the place where a group of Confederate supporters, including John Wilkes Booth, conspired to assassinate the president. It was Surratt’s association with Booth that ultimately led to her conviction, though debate continues as to the extent of her involvement and whether it really warranted so harsh a sentence.

“Mary Surratt is first woman executed by U.S. federal government.” 2008. The History Channel website. 6 Jul 2008, 03:00 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=1059.

Himmler decides to begin medical experiments on Auschwitz prisoners

On this day in 1942, Heinrich Himmler, in league with three others, including a physician, decides to begin experimenting on women in the Auschwitz concentration camps and to investigate extending this experimentation on males.

“Himmler decides to begin medical experiments on Auschwitz prisoners.” 2008. The History Channel website. 6 Jul 2008, 03:01 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6512.

Samantha Smith leaves for visit to the USSR

Samantha Smith, an 11-year-old American girl, begins a two-week visit to the Soviet Union at the invitation of Soviet leader Yuri Andropov. Some American observers believed that Smith was merely being used by the Soviets for their own propaganda purposes, while others saw her visit as a positive step toward improving U.S.-Russian relations.

“Samantha Smith leaves for visit to the USSR.” 2008. The History Channel website. 6 Jul 2008, 02:59 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2721.

25
Apr
08

On This Day, 4-25-08: Samantha Smith

Americans and Russians link up, cut Germany in two

On this day in 1945, eight Russian armies completely encircle Berlin, linking up with the U.S. First Army patrol, first on the western bank of the Elbe, then later at Torgau. Germany is, for all intents and purposes, Allied territory.

The Allies sounded the death knell of their common enemy by celebrating. In Moscow, news of the link-up between the two armies resulted in a 324-gun salute; in New York, crowds burst into song and dance in the middle of Times Square. Among the Soviet commanders who participated in this historic meeting of the two armies was the renowned Russian Marshal Georgi K. Zhukov, who warned a skeptical Stalin as early as June 1941 that Germany posed a serious threat to the Soviet Union. Zhukov would become invaluable in battling German forces within Russia (Stalingrad and Moscow) and without. It was also Zhukov who would demand and receive unconditional surrender of Berlin from German General Krebs less than a week after encircling the German capital. At the end of the war, Zhukov was awarded a military medal of honor from Great Britain.

“Americans and Russians link up, cut Germany in two.” 2008. The History Channel website. 25 Apr 2008, 01:54 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6433.

1684 – A patent was granted for the thimble.

1792 – The guillotine was first used to execute highwayman Nicolas J. Pelletier.

1846 – The Mexican-American War ignited as a result of disputes over claims to Texas boundaries. The outcome of the war fixed Texas‘ southern boundary at the Rio Grande River.

1859 – Work began on the Suez Canal in Egypt.

1860 – The first Japanese diplomats to visit a foreign power reached Washington, DC. They remained in the U.S. capital for several weeks while discussing expansion of trade with the United States.

1862 – Union Admiral Farragut occupied New Orleans, LA.

1864 – After facing defeat in the Red River Campaign, Union General Nathaniel Bank returned to Alexandria, LA.

1867 – Tokyo was opened for foreign trade.

1882 – French commander Henri Riviere seized the citadel of Hanoi in Indochina.

1898 – The U.S. declared war on Spain. Spain had declared war on the U.S. the day before.

1915 – During World War I, Australian and New Zealand troops landed at Gallipoli in Turkey in hopes of attacking the Central Powers from below. The attack was unsuccessful.

1928 – A seeing eye dog was used for the first time.

1945 – Delegates from about 50 countries met in San Francisco to organize the United Nations.

1952 – After a three-day fight against Chinese Communist Forces, the Gloucestershire Regiment was annihilated on “Gloucester Hill,” in Korea.

1954 – The prototype manufacture of the first solar battery was announced by the Bell Laboratories in New York City.

1959 – St. Lawrence Seaway opened to shipping. The water way connects the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean.

1967 – Colorado Governor John Love signed the first law legalizing abortion in the U.S. The law was limited to therapeutic abortions when agreed to, unanimously, by a panel of three physicians.

1984 – David Anthony Kennedy, the son of Robert F. Kennedy, was found dead of a drug overdose in a hotel room.

1992 – Islamic forces in Afghanistan took control of most of the capital of Kabul following the collapse of the Communist government.

1996 – The main assembly of the Palestine Liberation Organization voted to revoke clauses in its charter that called for an armed struggle to destroy Israel.

 

Andropov writes to an American fifth-grader

The Soviet Union releases a letter that Russian leader Yuri Andropov wrote to Samantha Smith, an American fifth-grader. This rather unusual piece of Soviet propaganda was in direct response to President Ronald Reagan’s vigorous attacks on what he called “the evil empire” of the Soviet Union.

In 1983, President Reagan was in the midst of a harsh rhetorical campaign against the Soviet Union. A passionate anticommunist, President Reagan called for massive increases in U.S. defense spending to meet the perceived Soviet threat. In Russia, however, events were leading to a different Soviet approach to the West. In 1982, long-time leader Leonid Brezhnev died; Yuri Andropov was his successor. While Andropov was not radical in his approach to politics and economics, he did seem to sincerely desire a better relationship with the United States. In an attempt to blunt the Reagan attacks, the Soviet government released a letter that Andropov had written in response to one sent by Samantha Smith, a fifth-grade student from Manchester, Maine.

Smith had written the Soviet leader as part of a class assignment, one that was common enough for students in the Cold War years. Most of these missives received a form letter response, if any at all, but Andropov answered Smith’s letter personally. He explained that the Soviet Union had suffered horrible losses in World War II, an experience that convinced the Russian people that they wanted to “live in peace, to trade and cooperate with all our neighbors on the globe, no matter how close or far away they are, and, certainly, with such a great country as the United States of America.” In response to Smith’s question about whether the Soviet Union wished to prevent nuclear war, Andropov declared, “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. This is the wish of everyone in the Soviet Union. That’s what we were taught to do by Vladimir Lenin, the great founder of our state.” He vowed that Russia would “never, but never, be the first to use nuclear weapons against any country.” Andropov complimented Smith, comparing her to the spunky character of Becky from the Mark Twain novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. “All kids in our country, boys and girls alike, know and love this book,” he added. Andropov ended by inviting Samantha and her parents to visit the Soviet Union. In July 1983, Samantha accepted the invitation and flew to Russia for a three-week tour.

Soviet propaganda had never been known for its human qualities. Generally speaking, it was given to heavy-handed diatribes and communist cliches. In his public relations duel with Reagan-the American president known as the “Great Communicator”-Andropov tried something different by assuming a folksy, almost grandfatherly approach. Whether this would have borne fruit is unknown; just a year later, Andropov died. Tragically, Samantha Smith, aged 13, died just one year after Andropov’s passing, in August 1985 in a plane crash.

“Andropov writes to an American fifth-grader.” 2008. The History Channel website. 25 Apr 2008, 01:57 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2648.




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