I was 12 or 13 years old when I first saw the news that the grave of all but two of the Romanovs had been discovered. On one of the news stories, they flashed pictures on the screen of each of the Tsar's children. For some reason, I found myself drawn towards the photo of Maria. I have no idea why, exactly, but she seemed to reach out to me more than any of the others. Having grown up during the tail end of the Cold War, I had very little knowledge of Russia other than what they told us in school. But it sparked an interest which continues to this day. Suddenly, I wanted to learn as much about Russian History and the Romanov Family as I could. I ended up getting a history degree followed by a graduate degree in history. I even learned Russian (though I can read it better than I can speak it).
I never intended on teaching. I just wanted the degrees to further my own knowledge. Instead, I was a police officer. A few years ago, I was injured on the job and pensioned out. But because I paid attention to a news story decades ago, I had a degree I could put to use. Now I teach history at a community college.
Though it may sound strange, I credit Maria Nikolaevna for that. I feel, well, grateful to her in a way. She sparked my interest in history and sent me down a path that I'm still following. I do not consider myself an expert on Russia, the Romanovs, or much of anything, really. But to this day I still feel myself drawn more towards her than the others. I guess we all have that moment where we became interested with this subject, and that's mine.