Gold star widow Jennie Taylor reflects on how to demonstrate that veterans’ sacrifices are worth it

ST. GEORGE — On a day when Americans came together to honor veterans for their service for our country, gold star widow Jennie Taylor asked an intimate gathering in St. George whether the sacrifices they continue to make are worth it.

Jennie Taylor speaks at Spilsbury Mortuary, St. George, Utah, Nov. 11, 2019 | Photo by Andrew Pinckney, St. George News

The mother of seven said the question is for those left behind to answer. 

“Is it worth it? We decide. We get to decide how we live our lives and determine if their lives of sacrifice in life and death are worth it,” she said to those gathered at Spilsbury Mortuary on Monday. 

It has been just over a year since Taylor’s husband and North Ogden Mayor, Maj. Brent Taylor, lost his life in an insider attack while on patrol in Afghanistan, but she said her husband wasn’t the only American soldier involved in the incident. Brent Taylor’s “guardian” PFC Jesse Brown was also killed protecting him.

Jennie Taylor said that in one of the few quiet moments of reflection since, she realized that not only had Brown taken a bullet for her husband and country that day, but he had taken a bullet for her as well, defending her freedoms. She will be forever grateful.

Though some veterans must return home like her husband and Brown, in a flag-draped casket after falling at the hands of the enemy, Taylor said regardless of the beginning or ending of their service, all of them deserve our greatest respect and “most genuine expressions of gratitude.”

“On behalf of a truly grateful nation, I simply say thank you, and I assure you that we see you, and we are committed to seeing to it that your sacrifice will always be worth it,” she said.

Taylor said her journey as an American patriot began long before she ever met her husband. As a 10-year-old girl in Omaha, Nebraska, a spark was ignited in her heart to be a proud American — to serve others and to live by the principles upon which the country was founded. It was a devotion the Taylors shared, and she said the last 12 months have been a humbling opportunity to reflect and ponder on ways to ensure that his sacrifice has meaning. 

While leaving on first deployment to Afghanistan, Brent Taylor wrote in his personal journal about the reasons he dedicated his life to service. He wrote:

It is heart wrenching every time I do it, so why do I go? I go because of how I feel about our country, I go so that I go so that I can hold my head up among my proud forbearers who have fought for our country. I go to do my part to keep my country and my family safe. I go to fill a critical position that is vacant and to honor the thousands of Americans who have given their lives in these wars. They will not have died in vain.

Jennie Taylor told the audience at Spilsbury that it was up to those left behind to make sure the wishes of her husband – and countless other veterans – were carried on.

“Will they have died in vain?” she asked. “We get to decide. We get to decide how we live and what we teach our children’s children. We’ll decide and we’ll determine if the battles waged and the lives lost have indeed been worth it. Am I living in such a way to prove that is absolutely, without a doubt, unequivocally, worth it? Am I honoring our nation’s heroes in lip service only, or am I willing to honor those heroes by committing myself to living heroically as well?”

Taylor said we can best honor those who have been willing to give their lives for us by making something of honor out of the lives they have given to us. Following her husband’s death, she founded the Leadership Legacy Foundation in Brent Taylor’s honor. The foundation works toward three pillars: facilitating the training and education of service-oriented leaders, providing support to local military families and creating opportunities for community engagement through cultural arts events.

“We stand united in making sure that that the cause of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness with liberty and justice for all is a cause well worth fighting for. It is even a cause worth dying for.”

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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