Letter from Theresa Ann Yugar

To whom it may concern:

My name is Theresa Ann Yugar and I am writing this letter in solidarity with Dr. Rebecca Moore and her husband Fielding McGehee to advocate for the dedication of Jonestown martyrs to continue for May 29, 2011 at Evergreen cemetery. Like the majority of U.S. citizens I am twice removed from this tragedy that dates to November 18, 1978. I lost no family members or friends. From Moore I have learned that this tragedy did not begin or end on this day. Rather the estimated nine hundred and seventeen individuals who died left family members and friends who also died, not in a literal, but metaphorical sense.

At the time, the U.S. media did a disservice to the martyrs who tragically died in Guyana, Jonestown. It labeled them a cult invoking negative sentiments. As a result, for thirty-two years family members and friends have been denied recognition of this national loss in U.S. history. Unlike U.S. media that easily moved onto more “pressing issues” relatives and friends continued to live with an open wound unable to scab and subsequently heal.

The dedication to Jonestown martyrs is a long time in coming. To deny this event from taking place is to further inflict pain on the open wound carried by relatives from that day forward. For me, this memorial is important for two reasons. First, to remember, honor, mourn and begin the process of healing, reconciliation, and closure most needed by family members, friends and individuals in solidarity with them. Second, is to re-visit the untold story of The Peoples Temple vision for a more just and equitable world.

I implore you to not deny friends of The Peoples Temple a name and voice again.


Theresa Yugar
Roman Catholic religious educator
Long Beach, California