Letter from Vicki Perry

Dear Ron and Evergreen Employees:

I just wanted to write and tell you how ecstatic I was to see pictures of the memorial site as it is now.  I know it’s incomplete at this point but I can’t say in words how amazingly beautiful it is turning out to be!

I was there when the plans were discussed, and simply didn’t imagine anything so beautiful and heartfelt.  I thank you and of course, the members of the Jonestown Memorial Fund Committee for creating such a wonderful spot for healing those hearts broke over such a horrific occurrence in our history.

I am Tim Carter’s girlfriend and while I’m not sure the name means anything to you, I wanted to let you know how much it means to not only Tim, but to all of us.  I have been on the “outside” of the survivor family and watched how devastating all of the tales are and will forever be.  I feel this memorial site will now give those that need it, the freedom to heal and grieve for their family members the way they should have years ago.

While I’ve watched the grieving process over the years, nothing has meant this much in terms of closure.  The people that are buried there were not accepted by any other cemetery in the states after the tragedy was over, except Evergreen.   They were not respected as human beings to even have a proper burial site, and through all of the years of hearing there was to be a memorial plaque, it was disheartening to never see it come about.  It simply became one more kick in the gut for the survivors and family members of those who died.  It became something else they would just have to suffer through.  The one small headstone simply reminded us every year that these people weren’t “human” enough to get the recognition they deserved, even after death.

For years, we heard about the memorial package that Jynona had put together, but it never came to fruition.  Now, with this group’s funding, it can be. 

I’m not able to come for this memorial, which saddens me deeply.  This means more than any other meeting of the survivor family.  I am saddened, but happy at the same time, to see such a memorial site and service put together at last.  It’s long overdue and with Jynona’s plan never completed, I think we were beginning to believe it was simply just a pipe dream.

The Jonestown Memorial Fund Committee stepped in and in a very short period of time, along with the amazing work of your staff, created a spot that finally buries this event and people with pride, something they have deserved for years.  The healing that will finally take place is beyond anything we will know.  It is a place of release for open wounds and broken hearts.  Family members can finally accept the peace that they have needed for so long, thanks to your efforts.

The appreciation I feel for what your group have accomplished in such a short period, along with the efforts of the Jonestown Memorial Fund Committee, cannot be stated in words.  It is time for peace, healing and proper grieving, thanks to you and your staff, this can happen at a respectful site. 

I feel now that I can truly honor the lives of the victims of the Jonestown massacre freely and easily.  I have been there a couple of other times and the feeling wasn’t there as much as it is now.  It’s an honor to see the names of my partner’s family proudly placed on the stones.  Terry Carter, Malcolm Carter, Gloria Rodriguez Carter, Chae-Ok Jones-Carter, Jocelyn Carter and Kaywana Carter are the immediate family members that are missed daily.  At least the new site creates a sense of them being buried with a sense of dignity that wasn’t there before with a single, plain plaque.  It was hurtful, as these folks that are buried there did nothing wrong.  They never hurt anyone, they simply tried to create a better life for themselves and their children.

As with all the survivors, it’s not only the immediate family members that died, but it is all of them, as a group.  As it is now as well, they are all family and always will be.  Each survivor has lost 913 family members through that horrific day.  They lived, danced, sang, ate, loved and hated together as one large family.  They took care of each other’s children.  They took care of each other.  They were and still are family.  The loss of cameramen, the Congressman and reporters were felt at a deep level too.

You have enabled those that have lost so much the chance to finally grieve.  This includes Jim Jones Jr. and Stephen Jones, who also lost their father that day, along with their mother, sisters, brothers, and extended family.  Not including the controversial name of Jim Jones would be disrespecting them and their grief at such a terrific loss of life.  With Jynona’s memorial plaque, his name wouldn’t have been included, and that would have disrespected two of the surviving members of the family and two wonderful human beings.

We all appreciate what you and your staff have done for us.  We love the way it is turning out.  You have gone above and beyond anything imagined.  For that, we will all be truly grateful.  This is not the time for fighting between two groups, but a time for celebration that those that died finally get a respectful, beautiful, peaceful place to rest, including those that Jynona lost out of her family which are named specifically on her plaque.  God Bless all the souls we lost that day.  The surviving members are truly some of the most special, loving, kindhearted folks I will ever meet or have ever met.  They have all endured so much.  Each little beam of light from a kind act, such as this memorial site means so much.  It finally means their family members that have died have a place to rest in peace and they rest there with dignity.   It creates a shimmer of hope that the survivors are gaining a tiny piece of respect as well.  We can never repay you enough for that.

Thank you so much, Ron and staff, for creating a beautiful spot for my friends and family to heal.  When you can do that for another human being, or group of human beings, words cannot express the value of your gift. 

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart,
Vicki Perry
Survivor family member and friend