Utah mayor died for democracy so it’s ‘fitting’ his body comes home on Election Day, widow says

Posted at 7:09 AM, Nov 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-06 09:09:31-05

The widow of a Utah mayor fatally shot while serving in Afghanistan met his body in Dover, Delaware, on Tuesday before delivering a poignant statement on the importance of voting, a cause for which her husband was willing to die.

Following the dignified transfer in which Jennie Taylor and their two oldest sons welcomed the body of Maj. Brent Taylor back onto American soil, the widow traveled to nearby Camden, where she addressed reporters.

“To say that our hearts are anything less than shattered would be nothing short of true deceit,” she said. “Yet to deny the sacred honor that it is to stand that close to some of the freshest blood that has been spilled for our country would be absolute blasphemy.”

Afghan pilot to widow: Brent taught me women are equals

Brent Taylor died for freedom and democracy, not just in the States — but in Afghanistan as well, she said.

From the Afghan ballot box to America’s

About two weeks ago, on the day before Afghanistan was slated to hold its first parliamentary election in eight years — something her husband of 15 years later described as “beautiful” — a 22-year-old lieutenant fresh out of officer training was killed, Jennie Taylor said. Her husband considered the young Afghan soldier a dear friend, she explained.

She recalled her husband’s message a week after the election: “The strong turnout at that election, despite the attacks and challenges, was a success for the long-suffering people of Afghanistan, and for the cause of human freedom. I am proud of the brave Afghan and U.S. soldiers I serve with. Many American, NATO, and Afghan troops have died to make moments like this election possible.”

Jennie Taylor noted that, given her husband’s sentiments on democracy, it was “only fitting” that his body was returned to the States in a flag-draped casket on Election Day.

“It is a timeless and cherished honor to serve in our country’s armed services,” she said. “That honor has been Brent’s since he served in the Utah National Guard for the past 15 years, and it has been mine for just as long as I have proudly stood by his side.”

What Maj. Taylor wanted for America

It will also be their seven children’s honor, and, she prays, their children’s honor — “for many generations to come,” she said.

“The price of freedom surely feels incredibly high to all those of us who know and love our individual soldier, but the value of freedom is immeasurable to all who know and love America,” Jennie Taylor said.

It was his second tour in Afghanistan

The Pentagon confirmed Brent Taylor’s death Sunday. A member of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces shot Taylor before the gunman was swiftly killed by Afghan forces, according to the NATO-led Resolute Support coalition.

Another service member was injured in the Saturday attack and was listed in stable condition after undergoing treatment over the weekend.

Taylor had served as mayor of North Ogden, Utah, about 45 miles north of Salt Lake City, since 2013. He temporarily stepped down as mayor to deploy to Afghanistan with the National Guard, according to his biography on North Ogden’s website.

He served 12 years as an officer in the Army National Guard, including seven on active duty. Taylor also served multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Brigham Young University graduate left in January for his second tour of duty in Afghanistan.

“Brent had a profound influence on this community,” North Ogden City Councilman Phillip Swanson said. “He was the best of men with the ability to see potential and possibility in everything around him.”

A final plea to Americans

A report released this week by the US government’s own ombudsman of the war set out how the Taliban has strengthened its grip in Afghanistan, now controlling more territory than at any time since 2001. Through September, almost 2,800 Afghans were killed in 2018.

On October 28, in his last Facebook post, Taylor applauded the millions of Afghans who defied the Taliban’s threats and went to the polls, calling it a success for a war-weary people.

Quoting the ancient Greek historian Thucydides — “The secret to happiness is freedom… And the secret to freedom is courage” — he noted that his “dear friend,” the 22-year-old Afghan lieutenant, was among those who made the ultimate sacrifice “to make moments like this possible.”

“As the USA gets ready to vote in our own election next week,” he said in closing, “I hope everyone back home exercises their precious right to vote. And that whether the Republicans or the Democrats win, that we all remember that we have far more as Americans that unites us than divides us. ‘United we stand, divided we fall.’ God Bless America.”

He signed his final post with American flag and fist emojis.