Letter from Kathryn Barbour

I support the Memorial as it has been made by Jim Jones, Jr., because my husband and sister-in-law, Richard Tropp and Harriett Tropp, who died in Jonestown, Guyana, would have wanted it that way.  They and those who died with them have not been individually memorialized, and because we who are living have only so much time left to record our memories of them for posterity, we need to have a memorial, not promises or, as has been the case for over a year now, evasion and opposition from Rev. Norwood.  They will always live in our memories and their names should be shown in all historical accuracy.  It is the least we can do for them. 

The misinterpretation of this dispute as a clash of two "factions" by some reporters is sad and, I believe, inaccurate.  By mischaracterizing us as "supporters" of Jim Jones and attempting to inflame the public against this memorial, she quickly succeeded in evoking threats, hatred and misunderstanding in online comments following the publication of such articles.  I am disappointed that 32½ years later so many people still rush to judge and condemn not only the dead, but those who wish to remember them.  That reflects on the lack of our ability as a society to process this occurrence and the propensity of those who were not personally involved to seize on easy answers, such as blaming or castigating the victims, adding shame to the sorrow.  We for our part, will and must remember our family as we knew them–not just good people, but great people. 

As one who donated to both memorials, I attended Ms. Norwood’s service and have experienced first-hand the bitterness and hostility that pervades them, and which now animate her vehement opposition to the memorial that the survivors provided.  By insisting on a memorial omitting his name, Rev. Norwood is giving Jim Jones more power than he deserves.  He is already notorious and his name and photograph are readily recognizable.  This is not the case with the many family members we remember, who will always live in our hearts. 

Thank you for your thoughtful and caring consideration of this matter.  I look forward to your decision.

Sincerely,
Kathryn Barbour
(Peoples Temple survivor)

Originally posted on July 25th, 2013.

Last modified on December 9th, 2013.
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