Letter from Lela Howard

Dear Ron:

It has come to my attention the need to reiterate the importance of a Jonestown victim’s memorial at Evergreen Cemetery. 

We have waited for many years to no avail, for a proper recognition for our loved ones who perished that horrible day (November 18, 1978).  My entire life is filled with pain due to this tragedy. 

The victims need to be identified; dignities restored, and families brought out of hiding.  There is nothing wrong in loving, missing and mourning their death.  Please fight, fight, and fight against the incessant bullying, by the individual who has long since swayed from the original task of honoring lives lost, to a personal crusade of spreading hate.

Please allow the memorial and ceremony to take place.  Do not allow hate to once again; halt a desire to honor the victims.  There is no basis for halting the ceremony.  No one person should have that kind of control over hallowed grounds, which contain the remains of hundreds.  The “remains,” are all known through public record, and have surviving family.  This family wants a fitting recognition for this lone grave. 

There are no grounds for halting the memorial.  It has been 33 years since the deaths.  More than half of this time was spent collecting funds for a memorial that has never come to light.  Again, with the names being public record, surviving relatives have raised funds to create a memorial.  This memorial is ready to be placed on the ground where our families are buried, and its time to let them rest in peace, recognized for who they were/are. 

Your cemetery was the only one to allow a burial of this magnitude, and despite the criticism you stood firm.  This generosity, brought survivors and families together, however, due to the hate filled rants disguised as an annual ceremony, which humiliates us and most importantly victimizes our loved ones even further.  We are made to be uncomfortable where there should be nothing but peace.

Again, after 33 years, there is still fighting.  How much longer can this continue? Let this pain end.  Let it end and allow a healing to take place starting with a ceremony filled with survivors and families who want and need this memorial and ceremony on May 29, 2011.

Thank you.

Lela Howard