For me, May 29 was more than a day to meet and thank the people who had worked on the memorial to the people who died in Jonestown. It was also a day I could see people I hadn’t seen for 41 years, when I was a teenager, and they – Stephan and Jim Jr. – were young boys. It was a change to see Victoria Ijames. She had been like my second mother. Her son Tommy, is my friend I wrote about in My Experience with Jim Jones and Peoples Temple in last year’s jonestown report. I wanted to talk to them all longer in person – it was a busy day – but at least I got to say hello.
After the speeches, when people had the chance to go up and say something at the podium, I wanted to tell everyone about my mom Maxine Harpe and the handful of people who died mysteriously when Jim Jones was in Mendocino County. If the authorities had done a proper investigation of those deaths, I would have said, he could have been stopped in California.
There’s a lot I don’t fully understand about the memorial. I don’t understand why Jim Jones’ name is on the plaque, or – since the decision was made to include it – why it didn’t add something like “This murderer Jim Jones killed all these people.”
Most of all, though, I don’t understand why we had to wait so long for the memorial.
(Dan Harpe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 707-495-8070.)