Letter from Mary Sawyer

Dear Mr. Haulman,

I am greatly distressed to learn of the efforts to impede our dedication of the Jonestown Memorial scheduled for Sunday, May 29.

I was living in northern California from 1975 to 1980, and it was during these years that I became acquainted with the People Temple movement. I had the opportunity to work with staff and members of Peoples Temple and became friends with many of them. I lost 23 friends in the Jonestown tragedy, including two precious children who are buried at Evergreen.

I contributed to the fund to build the Jonestown Memorial. I am planning on attending the service on the 29th. I will be flying from Omaha, Nebraska on Southwest Airlines Sunday morning, arriving via Phoenix at the Oakland Airport just in time to take a cab to the cemetery. I have reservations that night at the La Quinta Inn at 8465 Enterprise Way in Oakland.

I and others have been waiting a very, very long time for this occasion–a time to gather together, a time to honor those who lost their lives, a time to reflect and seek healing. I will be extremely distraught if I arrive at the cemetery to find controversy rather than compassion. I firmly believe that the irrationality of one individual should not be allowed to preclude the rest of us from erecting an appropriate monument to loved ones. 

Please know of my gratitude for your support of our efforts to properly memorialize these four hundred plus individuals.

Mary Sawyer
Professor of Religious Studies
Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies
402 Catt Hall – ISU
Ames, IA 50011