PROVO — In August 2018, while home on leave from his fourth combat tour in the Middle East, Maj. Brent Taylor and his wife, Jennie Taylor, took a stroll down memory lane. After touring through the Brigham Young University campus, they paused in the new Reflection Room in BYU's Wilkinson Student Center.
Together the couple stood at the room's south side and gazed at the names of fallen soldiers embossed on the memorial wall honoring BYU students and alumni who lost their lives in service to their country.
Before leaving, he stood in front of the wall as his wife snapped a photo.
As a member of the Utah National Guard, Brent Taylor understood the many sacrifices the soldiers whose names carved before him had made, but what he didn't know was that less than a year later, his name would appear there beside them.
On Thursday, in a private afternoon ceremony held in that same room, the Taylor family — along with military officials and university and community leaders — gathered to honor the late Brent Taylor as his name was unveiled on the memorial wall.
During the final months of his second combat tour in Afghanistan, Brent Taylor was killed on Nov. 3, 2018, during a "ruck" march — a load-carrying march — while working with joint forces in that country.
Taylor was killed by an Afghan security officer during an apparent insider attack on the forces, one in a string of similar insider attacks during 2018.
Prior to deploying to Afghanistan in January 2018, Brent Taylor had been reelected for a second term as mayor of North Ogden in the fall of 2017 and was a well-known and beloved community leader.
"I have a picture on my phone. … I took a picture of him in front of this wall, having no way of ever knowing or imagining his name would be added to this wall," Jennie Taylor told the Deseret News, standing in front of the wall where her husband's name now appears with four others under the inscription "War on Terror."
"But this is where we began. … This is where everything began, and I can't help but think as cheesy as it is: 'Enter to learn, go forth to serve.' "
Like the BYU motto encourages, service — whether to his family, his community or his country — was what Brent Taylor was known for.
"Brent was a good friend and an incredible public servant," said Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, who attended the ceremony Thursday. He said one of Taylor's passions politics and helping others to understand the importance of voting as a way of maintaining and protecting freedom.
"And Jennie feels inspired, I think, that it is her mission to carry on that legacy," Cox said.
During the BYU ceremony, Jennie Taylor announced the creation of a new scholarship in her husband's name. The Major Brent Taylor Legacy Foundation, as she explained, is a way for the Taylor family to continue on the legacy started by their husband and father.
The foundation will provide one scholarship for undergraduate work at BYU in political science, and two scholarships at the University of Utah — one at each the masters and doctoral levels — aimed at helping the future generations of leaders.2 comments on this story
The scholarships mirror the path that Brent Taylor took in his own studies, including a Ph.D. from the University of Utah, which was awarded to him posthumously earlier this month.
"We really feel as a family, Brent's greatest legacy was in leadership. Leadership as a father, leadership as a soldier, leadership as a mayor, and leadership as a friend, a brother," Jennie Taylor said.
After announcing the scholarship, Jennie Taylor expressed her hope that future beneficiaries of the scholarship would take the time to learn about who Brent Taylor was and find inspiration through his story and legacy.