SOUTH JORDAN, Utah — Saturday was a first for the city of South Jordan and a third for the state of Utah: the groundbreaking for a new Gold Star Families Memorial Monument.
These monuments started popping up because of the advocacy and hard work of many inspired by one of Utah's Gold Star widows, Jennie Taylor.
It may seem like a lot of fanfare to turn soil over in front of the South Jordan Public Safety Building, but few in the small crowd that gathered there on Saturday morning knew what it was like to watch the soil turned over on top of the grave of their loved one who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Taylor and her family continue to pay the sacrifice of service, one that took her husband's life in 2018.
“People ask me all the time, 'Is it worth it?' Well, it was to Brent," said Taylor. "It was to the hundreds of thousands who have given their lives for the cause of freedom around the world.”
Though Major Brent Taylor's service ended on his fourth deployment to Afghanistan, that was when his wife's service unexpectedly began.
“I never went to boot camp, I never even once considered joining the military myself, but this is my service," said Taylor. “I think I feel compelled to make sure people know and remember and honor these beautiful, willing sacrifices.”
With the help of others, she dedicated the first Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in North Ogden in 2020.
In March of 2022, a second monument was dedicated in St. George.
Another Gold Star memorial has been announced for Sandy City.
“These monuments, solid rock granite, are such a physical, tangible symbol of the strength of our Gold Star families in this nation, and they have a giant hole in the middle," said Taylor.
The monument has a soldier carved out as the hole in the memorial, showing strength while experiencing loss.
"We live in the world of 'and,'" said Taylor. "It’s beautiful and it’s really hard.”
The monument is a public headstone, so to speak, for the families still living the sacrifices passed on by their loved ones.
"I feel the strength of those who have gone before me, and I feel the strength of my husband who literally gave his life for me," said Taylor.
That's what South Jordan Mayor Dawn Ramsey said she hopes Gold Star families feel when they notice these monuments across the state.
“There’s not enough that we can do to say thank you, but this is something we can do, and we want this physical manifestation of our gratitude as a city, as a community," said Ramsey.
Due to supply chain issues and some other constraints, Ramsey said they’re not exactly sure when the South Jordan memorial will be completed and dedicated, but they're planing for sometime this coming fall.