"Truth Tellers" portrays moments when Robert Shetterly visits schools and libraries across the country and talks to students about the activists he's painted. In this scene, he presents a portrait of Samantha Smith, the Manchester girl who became known as a peace activist after she wrote to the leader of the Soviet Union, Yuri Andropov, in 1982. Credit: Courtesy of Kane-Lewis Productions

Letters submitted by BDN readers are verified by BDN Opinion Page staff. Send your letters to letters@bangordailynews.com.

I am writing in appreciation for Emily Burnham’s well-researched and perceptive BDN article about my daughter Samantha Smith’s efforts on behalf of peace between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union. I think the reason Samantha’s letter resonated among so many people was because she not only reflected their fears, but also symbolized the innocent children who are the victims of war. The unspeakably tragic scenes we are now witnessing from Russia’s unprovoked and brutal war of choice against Ukraine are vivid manifestations of her question.

I have very fond memories of my family’s visit to the Soviet Union in 1983, and my own subsequent visits to Russia since then. I have dear Russian friends. However, I cannot be silent in the face of what is happening now. There is no justification for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, or its twisted historical denial of Ukrainian independence or its people’s right to choose their destiny. I am not against the Russian people; I am against Vladimir Putin and the sadistic carnage he is leading. If Samantha were alive today, I truly believe she would be both horrified and heartbroken by this war, as am I.

Jane Smith