NORTH OGDEN — When a soldier dies in the service of the country, he or she is said to have made the ultimate sacrifice.
But it doesn’t stop there. Surviving spouses, children and others — Gold Star survivors — also feel the pain, and in recognition of their sacrifice, a new monument to acknowledge and honor them is planned for the open grounds outside North Ogden City Hall.
Jennie Taylor, the widow of Brent Taylor, the former North Ogden mayor and major killed last year while deployed in Afghanistan with the Utah Army National Guard, has pushed the plans for the proposed Gold Star Families Monument.
The stories of those with links to the area who have died while serving in the military “need to be told to keep them alive,” she said. “More than that, we need to honor their families.”
Brent Taylor is obviously close to Jennie Taylor’s heart. The planned memorial, though, a series of four black granite slabs with a cutout of a saluting soldier between two of them, is meant to honor and recognize all area Gold Star families and their fallen service member relatives, she said.
The North Ogden City Council on Tuesday agreed to grant an easement allowing placement of the memorial in the open area between City Hall, the North Ogden Police Department and the Weber County Library System North Branch location. Jennie Taylor and reps from Follow the Flag North Ogden will help spearhead fundraising efforts — around $60,000 will be needed — and she is hoping for installation next May, in time for Memorial Day.
“Unlike a cemetery where we go to honor those who have passed, this is a memorial to the living. This is for those who have been left behind,” said Kirk Chugg, leader of Follow the Flag North Ogden, which led separate efforts to acquire an oversized U.S. flag to be flown in honor of Brent Taylor and other U.S. military veterans.
He addressed the City Council in support of the memorial plans, noting other Gold Star families in the area, including the survivors of U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Jared Reaves and U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Elliott Robbins. Robbins died June 30 while serving in Afghanistan in a non-combat related incident while Reaves died July 5 of acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
“We are a Gold Star community. We love and support these families and this is an excellent way to do so,” Chugg said.
James Hammon, the father of Reaves, also addressed the City Council on the plans. “It should be a very strong reminder to all of us of just what exactly the ultimate sacrifice is,” he said.
Jennie Taylor said she knows of 13 North Ogden-area families who have lost loved ones while serving in the U.S. military dating to the U.S. Civil War. She’d like to see placement of a similar memorial in the Salt Lake City-area as well as a memorial to Gold Star families statewide.
“It can start a beautiful conversation as to what the price of freedom is, hopefully keep the awareness there,” she said.
Those involved are working with the nonprofit Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation, which has helped with placement of similar Gold Star memorials around the country. The design would be similar to other memorials — around 8 feet high at its tallest point and 13 feet wide — but it would contain flourishes, still to be determined, decided upon by local boosters.
Those interested in donating to the memorial effort may do so via PayPal using the email@example.com email address. They may also donate via Zions Bank to the Major Brent Taylor Leadership Legacy. Donations may also be mailed to the Major Brent Taylor Foundation, P.O. Box 272, 2637 N. Washington Blvd., North Ogden, Utah, 84414, while a GoFundMe campaign is to be launched under the name Gold Star Families Monument-North Ogden.