Letter from Catherine Wessinger

I am a professor of the history of religions at Loyola University New Orleans. I have published essays about the events at Jonestown.

I am writing to thank Evergreen Cemetery for its contribution to the recently installed memorial plaques for those who died at Jonestown. For 32 years the tragedy of Jonestown has been compounded by the lack of a memorial recording the names of the victims. Everyone who died at Jonestown were the victims of complex social psychological dynamics. Evergreen Cemetery has taken steps to ensure that the names of all of these lives are recorded and remembered respectfully.

I regret that I will not be present for the May 29 memorial service. I cannot attend because I am not in California. I plan to visit the memorial when I am in San Francisco in November.

For non-relatives like myself wishing to visit the grave, the new memorial is the appropriate way to provide a historical record of the ones who died. Otherwise the Jonestown dead remain anonymous to the visitor to a grassy mound in Evergreen Cemetery.

Evergreen Cemetery has taken the compassionate and responsible approach to remembering the Jonestown victims by cooperating with relatives and survivors to provide a fitting memorial. It is a shame that one vindictive individual is seeking to cause further harm to the memory of those who died at Jonestown, to the relatives and survivors, and to Evergreen Cemetery by filing a lawsuit. It is my hope that this lawsuit will not be permitted to go forward.

Best regards,

Catherine Wessinger
Rev. H. James Yamauchi, S.J. Professor of the History of Religions
Loyola University New Orleans

Originally posted on July 25th, 2013.

Last modified on December 9th, 2013.
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