Day #5 - Thankful for Religious Freedom

Real Estate Agent with DFW FINE PROPERTIES 0506509

Musings 11/20/2016


On this 5th Day of Thankfulness for the 10 Day Contest by Debbie Reynolds, I am thankful for being able to practice Religious Freedom in the United States of America as it was written by Thomas Jefferson, Author of the "Statute of Religious Freedom, adopted by the Virginia legislature in 1785." The Statue declared that "nobody could be forced to support any church, or suffer in any way for his or her religious beliefs."


Today, I reflect back to a time when I lived and worked at Camp Wyonegonic in Denmark, Maine. Perhaps, it was my second or third year of employment (1987 through 1992) when something special happened. I was asked to share a cabin with a Diplomat, a woman who came to America accompanying a group of young girls to experience summer camp and an educational experience from Russia because of the Samatha Smith Program Exchange Agreement between the United States and Russia. I admit, I was nervous, after all, I grew up during the Cold War. One day, I invited the Ambassador, my roommate to spend the day with me and I would show her around Maine. I recall asking her, did she want to visit Portland Head Lighthouse? Two Lights State Park? Bar Harbor? Dinner outside of camp? The Lobster Shack? A movie at the local theater in Bridgton, Maine? In broken English, she replied: "I want to step inside a Church and pray for world peace." Honestly, I was surprised by her answer. That was the day I recognized, I took my religious freedom for granted. This photo was not taken in Maine but I am reminded of this story every time I travel outside the United States. This Church was located in Lucerne in Switzerland where I recently traveled. 




For those who don't know the story about Samantha Smith's legacy of peace let me tell you about an 11-year- old girl from Manchester, Maine who changed the world by writing a letter to Soviet President Yuri Andropov; then traveled to the Soviet Union in 1983. In her letter, Samantha expressed her concerns about Russia and the United States getting into a nuclear war and asked: "why Andropov wanted to conquer the world, and ended with "God made the world for us to live together in peace and not to fight." The Soviet President read her letter and invited her and her family to visit on April 21, 1983. They were there for two weeks. With publicity like that, you can only imagine how everyone around the world was talking about this incredible little girl.


Unfortunately, on August 25, 1985, six passengers aboard a plane crash landed at the Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Aiport. Samantha and her father along with six other passengers were killed. People were devastated and during my employment, a Samantha Smith Camp Scholarship Exchange Program was set up and children from Russia stayed at Camp Wyonegonic, Denmark, ME and its brother Camp Winona in Bridgton, ME. My children were the same age as the Russian children and they learned each other's culture and developed skills with an International Community and Staff from around the world. As for me, I was humbled to share a cabin with an Ambassador from Russia who was in charge of the girls from her country and together we all happily lived, in peace for several summers in Maine. And it was all because of one 11-year-old girl who had the courage to change the world by believing in peace. 


©Patricia Feager, 11/20/2016 



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Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD
Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs

Thanks for telling us about Samantha Smith. I did not recall this story.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Nov 20, 2016 04:20 AM #1
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy


What a lovely story about Samantha Smith.  Yes, we have religious freedom and we should have respect and acceeptance of all religions instead of believing that our religion is THE one, and we are right and they are wrong.  A

Nov 20, 2016 04:28 AM #2
Susan Haughton
Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545 - Alexandria, VA
Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results.

I remember Samantha Smith very well, but did not know about the camp, of course.  How cool you had that wonderful experience.

It is so true we take our religious freedoms - as well as many other freedoms - for granted and fail to realize when there is a threat to them, as well. 

Nov 20, 2016 04:29 AM #3
Brian England
Arizona Focus Realty - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

This is certainly the most important freedom that we have, in my mind anyways.  I hope that your weekend is going well my friend!

Nov 20, 2016 04:43 AM #4
Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®
Perry Wellington Realty, Adam Conrad, Broker - Lewisburg, WV
Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate

Patricia, I do not take my religious freedom for granted.  I believe there is only one God, but we have the freedom to worship whatever way we want to.  That I am so grateful for... Thanks for sharing the story about Samantha. I do recall the story but didn't know anything about the camp.

Nov 20, 2016 06:07 AM #5
Joe Pryor
The Virtual Real Estate Team - Oklahoma City, OK
REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties

Yes, the orginal settlers to this country had experienced the Catholic Church and the Church of England dictating not only what you believe but how governments could act. Founding a country on religious freedom and the separation of church and state was based on experience, and not good ones.

Nov 20, 2016 06:27 AM #6
Debbie Reynolds
Platinum Properties - Clarksville, TN
Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent

I am so glad to have read your story. You are right, we don't realize that religious freedom is not to be taken for granted. Many countries will not allow public worship or you to have a faith other than the one dictated by the controlling government or forces.

Nov 20, 2016 08:54 AM #7
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

Thank you for sharing . I love this Thanksgiving contest . It gives us a chance to reflect on the things we are thankful for. Most of us are thankful for similar things like job, family and health.

Nov 20, 2016 08:37 PM #8
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Patricia I grew up in Communist Hungary, my mother was a Catholic and my Father was a Communist Party Member because he was a high ranking business man... and that was the only way... so I grew up as an agnostic until the age of 12... when we emigrated to Catholic Austria where everyone has 10% of their pay check deducted and sent to the Catholic Church.... yes I am thrilled to live in the US of A and having the freedom to choose and practice or not practice not mandatory either way it is awesome...Endre

Nov 21, 2016 01:31 PM #9
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