“Remembering Hidden Heroes:” Memorial Day ceremony held downtown

Published 2:15 pm Tuesday, May 28, 2024

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In 2008, Scottie Taylor and his family joined a fraternity no one wants to join, The Gold Star Family. The only requirement and cost to join this fraternity is to grieve the loss of an immediate loved one who died while serving in active duty to the U.S. military. 

Taylor lost his middle child, SPC Joel Allen Taylor who served with the U.S. Army. He was killed on June 24, 2008, just before midnight on a dirt road outside of Mosul, Iraq with his crew members SGT Alejandro Dominguez, PFC James Yohn who had a newborn at home and their Iraqi interpreter in Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

At a Memorial Day Ceremony hosted by the local chapter of Disabled American Veterans on Monday, May 27, Taylor spoke about Joel, the impact he had on the lives of others and what Memorial Day is about. 

“Today, we are remembering our fallen who gave all their tomorrows for our todays,” Taylor began. 

“Every Gold Star and MIA family understands what loss is and its cost. That empty place at the table. The absence of that loved one at family gatherings,” Taylor said. “On June 24, 2008, I joined a fraternity that no one applies for, The Gold Star Families –  over 1.7 million families. There is no application, no exam, no test- but always a great cost.”

Taylor shared that Joel, a Northside High School alum, “hated school.” Therefore, Taylor persuaded Joel to join the Army. Joel’s older brother, John Scott, was already enlisted. Taylor thought Joel would be safe there, and when he got out, he could go into Heavy Equipment Operations. 

“But on a dusty road in Iraq, all I ever planned and hoped for him came to an end,” Taylor said. However, that is not where Joel’s story ends. “Because of the example of Christ in his life, other soldiers saw Jesus in him. Before missions, he would pray for the safety of his crew and battle buddies. Because of that faith, others were baptized. Because of his example, some of our family even here at home made commitments to Christ – all because of Joel’s example.” 

Taylor concluded his speech saying those who have a connection to the military want people to enjoy “cookouts and fireworks;” however, they hope people remember that Memorial Day is a solemn day and take time to think of the service men and women who lost their lives defending their country. 

Taylor is a retired Fire Captain of Washington with 30 years of service. He retired in 2010. He has been married to Teresa Woolard Taylor for 28 years and has three children, John, Joel and Amber. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1975-1979 and received an Honorable Discharge. 

At Monday’s Memorial Day Service, Gold Star Families were presented with yellow roses. Parents Ken and Becky Jones were presented with an American Flag in memory of their son who died in active duty in 2005.