2000-03-18: “Death of Innocence”
Written by John and Patsy Ramsey, March 18, 2000
DOI Page 233
"The pastor of the Wesley Foundation, Tracey Hausman, graciously helped prepare the service. As we later discovered, Tracy had lost an infant child and knew firsthand the impact of such a loss. She worked to find the right words and liturgy to thank God for JonBenet's life and give support to those who loved and missed her.
Margaret Harrington worked on the service and came to the conclusion"
DOI Page 234
"that something special ought to be done to give people a genuine sense of involvement. She inquired if we had any ideas of what might lend a tough of meaning for people coming to the service. As I thought out it, an image came to mind. In the canyon just west of Boulder was an "angel tree," which had always seemed like a lovely idea to me. Unsolicited, people brought angels and left them hanging on the beautiful pine tree. With time, the little images grew in number and inspired people passing by. Of course, environmentalists and anti-religious groups had protested. One month the angels would be there. The next month they would have disappeared, taken down by one of the politically correct groups. Soon after, the angels would mysteriously reappear, one by one.
As I thought of that tree and the beautiful old dogwood that reached out over JonBenet's grave, I could see angels moving in the breeze, testifying to her life and watching over her. Maybe people could bring ornaments to the memorial services that would be like those angels on that pine tree, and we would hang them in Atlanta on the old dogwood. I relayed the thought to Margaret, and she passed along the idea. Friends who attended the service brought angel ornaments of every shape and size. Some were made by the little hands, and all were given in love to remember JonBenet."
DOI Page 235
"In that vein, we realized that we needed to accelerate the permanent monument for JonBenet's grave before December 26, 1997, lest the media sensationalized the absence of a marker. The problem was that we really weren't sure what we wanted to say on her headstone. Nothing seemed exactly right. I've talked to other parents of children who have died, and they relate similar difficulties in deciding what they want to say on their child's gravestone for generations to see. John and I thought about it a lot, but we hadn't yet come to the exact wording that we wanted on the stone forever. In the fall of 1997 we had finally decided on what we wanted and picked out a two-piece headstone that would accommodate the wording. We had a little angel carved into this stone, fashioned after one given to me by Gary Mann's wife, Pam. We wanted the Episcopal cross on the stone to remind people that JonBenet understood and loved God.
I found that I just couldn't emotionally handle buying and arranging for the headstone, so John had to go by himself. He picked out the marker from the Roswell Monument Company, the same people from whom we had purchased Beth's gravestone. Ronnie Stewart, the owner, told John he expected"
DOI Page 236
"to have the headstone completed sometimes in January. That was okay with us, but we began to realize it wouldn't be okay with the media. They were bound to slam us for not erecting a headstone before the first anniversary of her death.
John called Ronnie, and he called the Georgia Marble Company quarry, who said they would do their best to get at least the upright portion of the marker to Ronnie so he could engrave it and get it in place, even if temporarily, by December 26. Then we felt we could short-circuit the anticipated media hullabaloo. We installed the top piece of the marker on December 23.
We had already decided to spend Christmas in Florida in an attempt to stay secluded from the media. We knew they would do everything possible to get a picture of us during the anniversary of JonBenet's death, and that was the last thing we wanted. Susan Stine and our friend Cathy Sanford arranged for our family's trip, and by the grace of God the media never found out where we were until after we left.
After we returned to Atlanta, Regina Orlick and I went out to St. James Cemetery and hung the angels on the tree net to JonBenet and Beth's graves. With time, the custom was grown and many other people who visit JonBenet's grave have added to the beautiful ornaments swinging from the tree. Every time we visit the cemetery, we pause to look at all the angels glistening in the sunlight. It reminds us that a lot of people have been touched by a little angel named JonBenet."
DOI Page 312
"Just before we parted, Jameson said to Patsy, "I know nothing can bring JonBenet back, but if anyone asks what they can do for you as a sign of caring, what could they do?"
DOI Page 313
"Patsy thought for a minute and then said softly, "If someone wanted to place an angel on the tree by the grave, it would be appreciated."
As we were leaving, Jameson was so conscientious that she didn't want me to pay for her coffee, lest it appear that the Ramsey's were in some way or the other "buying" her off.
Once Jameson returned home, she went online and posted the suggestion that people might want to hang angels on the tree at the grave site. It wasn't long before more angels began appearing at JonBenet's grave. Some posters who couldn't get to the cemetery sent their angels to Jameson, and she hung them when she visited the grave on JonBenet's birthday, August 6, 1998.
On the back of her own angel Jameson wrote, "Happy Birthday, JonBenet from Jameson," and placed it on a branch of the dogwood above the grave site. Before long someone who had knowledge of the Internet went to the cemetery, took it down, and then put a photograph of that stolen angel and it's inscription on the Boulder News Forum site to boast of what they had done."
DOI Page 388
"Beautiful angel ornaments, which look like special Christmas decorations, now hang on the old dogwood tree that stretches its arms over the two graves of our daughters. The angels sway in the breeze and remind me of the ornaments that adorned JonBenet's Christmas tree in her bedroom. The first collection of these angels came from our friends in Boulder after the one-year remembrance service. Later, as other visitors came more ornaments appeared. People from across this country have left behind notes, cards, and poems that touched us deeply. We know that each twinkling angel represents a person, a family, and, in many cases, a child who has been touched by JonBenet. The little figurines sway in the wind and seem to be saying, "we remember"…"we care"…"we still hope"…"we love you." Most important, they seem to be watching over the girls, whose graves are side by side."