Major Brent Taylor Foundation wants to send all of Utah’s Gold Star families to 9/11 memorial
Jan 25, 2024, 6:38 PM | Updated: Jan 26, 2024, 1:51 pm
NORTH OGDEN — The Major Brent Taylor Foundation is looking for Utah’s Gold Star families who lost a loved one in the Global War on Terrorism.
The foundation estimates some 80 families live in Utah and wants to invite them to visit the Global War on Terrorism Memorial in Columbus, Georgia. The names of over 7,000 soldiers killed in action overseas since 9/11 are etched on the monument.
“Think Honor Flight with a twist,” said Jennie Taylor, executive director of the Major Brent Taylor Foundation. “We can’t take those family members who are no longer with us; we want to take their family.”
For Jennie Taylor, there is something sacred at the memorial where the name of her husband, Utah Army National Guard Maj. Brent Taylor, is immortalized next to thousands of others.
“One really touching element of the monument itself is the piece of steel from ground zero in New York, which, of course, was the day that began it all. Every family member … was deeply impacted by the events of Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001,” Taylor said. “You had parents from Texas reuniting with parents from Utah who had each buried a son in this great global war on terrorism — united in Georgia — and healing and remembering, laughter and tears.”
Taylor first visited the memorial with her family shortly after her husband was killed in Afghanistan.
“We walked away saying, ‘We need to get more Utah families here.’ Utah families probably don’t even know the wall exists. I don’t know about you, but we don’t vacation to Fort Moore much,” she said.
In 2021, the foundation made its first “Family Flight” trip with 10 people from five Gold Star families. After a year of fundraising, Taylor said they raised enough money, about $1,000 per participant, to cover the weekend trip for 14 families, 65 people, in 2023.
“We cover the airfare, the ground transportation, the hotel, the meals. They get to come and connect with other families who unfortunately have been through a similar but who also want to make sure that fallen loved one is not forgotten,” Taylor said.
This year, Taylor is hoping to invite all of Utah’s 80 Gold Star families from the Global War on Terrorism to the Sept. 6-8 commemoration.
“We’re looking for the family members; they probably don’t know that wall exists. They probably don’t know their son or their brother, or their sister, or their mom has a name on that wall,” she said. “Eighty families could be hundreds of family members … for privacy reasons. They don’t just release to the public (information) of where they live.”
The weekend events include a dinner, rededication of the monument, military ceremonies on Fort Moore, and a concert. With about $200,000 in donations, the foundation is asking for the community’s help in finding the families, to honor the sacrifice of their fallen hero.
In addition to spouses and children, Taylor said brothers and sisters of those killed in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria are also invited.