One Name That Doesn’t Belong

(Ed. note: The Jonestown Memorial Fund received several letters dissenting from the decision to include Jim Jones’ name among the hundreds on the memorial plaques. One note captured many of the feelings of those letters, and an edited version of it appears below. Out of respect for the sentiments expressed in the final paragraph, we have stripped this note of identifying information.)

I had no idea that Jim Jones’ name would be along with my brother’s name and the name of all others who lost their lives that horrible day. I do not place all blame on Jim Jones, but I do place blame on him for taking advantage of those who were not as strong as he was and not allowing those to leave who wanted to. His purpose starting out was probably very good, but he became evil as his power over those not as strong as he grew.

I hold very dear memories of my brother up until the day that the California Government sent him to Ukiah, and he was caught up in the catastrophe that was Jim Jones. My brother had served his country in the Army, and had never been in any trouble until he returned home. Then instead of helping him in his time of trouble, the California Government deemed it necessary to ship him to Ukiah, to Jim Jones and to his subsequent death.

I will probably go to my grave wondering, as my mom and dad did, what happened to my brother and how much he suffered before he died in Guyana. We all wondered where we went wrong that he would end up as he did. They suffered daily thinking about him.

I had always said that after my parents passed away, I would try to find out what happened, but I find now, since I am almost 75, that I have to keep what memories of him I have close and forget about Jonestown, if that is possible. He was a few years younger than I, and would be in his early 70s now, but I know him only as 37 years old.

I want no more to do with anything of Jim Jones and Jonestown.