25th Anniversary 25th Anniversary
Jonestown, May 1978
Twenty-five years ago the lives of thousands of people changed forever.
On 18 November 1978, gunmen from an agricultural settlement called Jonestown shot and killed a U.S. Congressman and four others on a remote airstrip in Guyana, a South American country on the Caribbean. Those killings set in motion more deaths at Jonestown, and some in Guyana’s capital city of Georgetown. Altogether, 918 died.
But many survived. Almost 80 members of Peoples Temple happened to be in Georgetown that day, and they escaped. A handful of Jonestown residents fled into the jungle surrounding Jonestown. Others, maintaining Peoples Temple operations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Redwood Valley, also survived. The events also had a profound effect upon the people who picked up the bodies, loaded them onto airplanes, and transported them to the United States. There were the Guyanese, shocked and bewildered by the disaster which happened in their country. And there were the relatives and friends of those who died.
While time seemed to stop for those directly affected by the tragedy in Jonestown, it also marched on. The observations and articles which appear here – written expressly to commemorate the lives lost twenty-five years ago – describe how the experiences of Jonestown and Peoples Temple changed everyone they touched. They also reveal a diversity of views and opinions which complicate, rather than simplify, our understanding of Jonestown.
We have divided the essays into two categories: “Reflections and Observations”, written by those who were Peoples Temple members and their relatives; and “Articles”, written by outside observers. The authors of these articles hold the copyright to them, but in most cases can be contacted directly by email for permission to re-publish. We also direct your attention to the jonestown report which has information about 25th Anniversary commemoration activities.
We extend our thanks to all those who contributed articles. Writing, and remembering, was a difficult process. These essays are gifts born in pain. 25th Anniversary 25th Anniversary Reflections and Observations 25th Anniversary Articles 25th Anniversary Events &
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