Address by Juanell Smart

02-29-nell_smartThirty-two years, six months, one week and five days ago, none of us thought we would be here to dedicate four memorial plaques to over 900 people, family, friends, children, loved ones. Nor did 11,881 days ago did my four children – Tinetra Fain, Al Smart, Scott Smart, Teri Smart – my mother Kay Nelson and my uncle Jim McElvane know that we would be here dedicating four memorial stones. To them, I say that I’m sorry it took so long. This should have happened a long time ago.

I find it difficult to speak at any length about my family, especially my children, but I’d kind of like to say something about some of the other children that were in the LA Temple. I often think about little Gary Tyler. He really wasn’t little, but he was a teenager in the LA Temple, and very quiet, very shy, but extremely smart and very dedicated. There was Darrell Devers who I secretly had hoped would be my son-in-law one day, not that I was unhappy with the choice my daughter made with Poncho. Poncho had a beautiful voice. The day I was over there, I went over with my two– three younger children, and of course, I think we all know the talent shows that Jonestown is famous for, and Peoples Temple, and Poncho sang “The Greatest Love,” and there were so many years after that I could not listen to that song, until one day, I accidentally heard the last few lines, that said, “And if by chance that special place that you’ve been dreaming of, leads you to a lonely place, find your strength and love.” And I hope that they did.

I didn’t realize that Poncho had living family until today, and his brother is here, and I was so happy to meet him.

I don’t know how many of you knew the Baisy children – there were a lot of them – but they were so well behaved and they used to kind of look like little ducklings following behind their mother. And there was Angela Connessero. Little baby, beautiful little baby, and I used to sit and hold her and rock her to sleep.

We knew these children. (Pause) They were no different than other children. They had the same dreams, the same hopes, the same problems, but they had one thread running through them that was consistent, and that was, they all wanted a better world for everyone. And they were steadfast in that desire, some even moreso than their adult counterparts.

There are a number of children buried here who have been– who were not identified. Among them are Teri and Scottie, my two youngest. Now with these four markers and all the names, they are no longer unidentified or unclaimed. We know that they’re here, they’re named, and after all these years, I realized there was something I needed to do, wanted to do, and didn’t know what it was. I want us to say goodbye. And now I can. Bye Mom. Bye Uncle Jim. And bye my beautiful children. Thank you.

Applause.

Last modified on November 20th, 2013.
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