Representative of a Hero

(Dedicated to Representative Leo Ryan; inspired by the poetry of Teri Buford O’Shea)

I saw
A representative of a hero today
He wore blue
The same shade as the sky
The color that birds equate
With the freedom of flight

He had gray hair, wore sunglasses
Fear was in his eyes as he climbed
Into the dump truck cab as we left
But he did his best
Not to show it
Not to let us see

Representative of a hero
He helped us to push forward
Through the jungle
He was delivering a small group
To the safety of small planes
Meant to take us home

Then they came to the airstrip
Out of the corner of my eye
I saw them
Shot after
Shot after

The representative of a hero
Dropped to the muddy ground
By the wheel of a “bird”
That was to be
Our flight out to

The “brigade” of gunman
Sent from Jonestown
Gone as quickly as they had appeared
The representative of a hero dead

But the hope
That he gave us
Lived on through that first night
Lived on to the next morning
Lived on
Lives on

I made it home
The representative of a hero
Did not
Or did he
Maybe not physically
Instead, he went home to the next plain

His ideals
His love
His concern
For those he so boldly
Walked into the jungle for
Those things all live on

Representative of a hero
Thank you
I will never forget you
I never could
Representative of “the better angels of our nature”
Thank you

(Bonnie Yates is a regular contributor to the jonestown report. Her other article in this edition of the jonestown report is Joe Mazor and His Interactions with Peoples Temple: What the FOIA Files Tell Us. Her previous articles may be found here. She may be reached here.)