Memorial Day 2016

Each Memorial Day the markers in the Golden Gate National Cemetery are decorated with a miniature American flags.  That’s 145,000 perfectly set flags.  As seen from Interstate 280 it’s an impressive sight.   However I imagine that few people can name even a single person buried there.  For this Memorial Day I’d like to focus on just one. 

Leo Ryan was a United States Congressmen.   He heard troubling reports of American citizens being held against their will in a remote religious settlement known as Jonestown.  This settlement was located far from home in the Guyanese jungle.  Ryan decided to lead a small fact-finding mission to Johnstown and its charismatic leader the Reverend Jim Jones.  His fatal mistake was that he went without any form of security what so ever.   In hindsight this lack of precaution seems incredibly naive even if Ryan had been unaware that Jim Jones had descended into insanity. 

Jim Jones and his followers were in no mood to sit around the campfire with Ryan toasting marshmallow and singing Kumbaya.  A knife wielding young man operating under orders from Jones made an unsuccessful attempt on Ryan’s life thus shattering any illusions the congressman might have harbored about his safety.  Ryan retreated to the airfield but was gunned down there.  That evening Jones ordered his followed to drink water laced with cyanide and Flavor Aid.  By morning more than 900 people, 300 of which were children, were dead in the largest mass suicide in modern history. 

  • Aperture: ƒ/5.6
  • Camera: LEICA X2
  • Taken: May 29, 2016
  • Flash fired: no
  • Focal length: 24mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/320s
    Memorial Day 2016