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South Jordan Journal

Gold Star Families Memorial Monument is dedicated in South Jordan

Oct 01, 2022 08:32PM ● By Peri Kinder

By Peri Kinder | [email protected]

Tyrone Foster was just 5 years old when his father was killed in the Persian Gulf, where he was stationed on the USS Stark. Senior Chief Quartermaster Vernon T. Foster Sr. was one of 37 Navy personnel killed as a result of a missile attack fired at the ship by Iraqi jet aircraft.

It’s been 35 years since his father’s death and Foster has a 5-year-old son of his own. Foster, a South Jordan resident, spoke at the dedication of South Jordan City’s Gold Star Families Memorial Monument on Sept. 7, at the Public Safety Building Plaza (10655 S. Redwood Road). He brought his son to attend the event and enjoyed the opportunity to tell his father’s story.

After her husband’s death, Foster’s mother was determined to make sure his spirit lived on. “She wanted us to know, without a doubt, how much he loved us, the sacrifices he made, the people he served and the love he gave,” he said. “I believe it is our job to never forget.”

Through a partnership with the Woody Williams Foundation, South Jordan’s monument is the third Gold Star Memorial in Utah, and the first in Salt Lake County. Ground was broken in May 2022 for the monument that is a double-sided, black granite slab that honors the families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for this country.

When Major Brent Taylor was killed in Afghanistan in 2018, he left his wife, Jennie, to raise their seven children. As a Gold Star Spouse, Jennie started the Major Brent Taylor Foundation to carry on her husband’s legacy of service and sacrifice. She attended the monument dedication that marked the 120th Gold Star Memorial in the United States.

“When we say gold star, we really mean gold heart. We mean everyone who’s ever lost anyone, at any time, in any uniform, anywhere, by any manner of death,” she said. “We don’t come to tell the stories of how our beloved person died, we come to remember and celebrate the stories of how they lived.”

The front of the monument is identical to other memorials, and includes a cut-out silhouette of a saluting service member, honoring those who have died. The back is individualized and designed to highlight local features, with panels dedicated to homeland, family, patriot and sacrifice.

“When you travel this beautiful country, from city to city, with a monument like this, you’ll notice they look exactly the same, and they're all incredibly unique,” Taylor said. “When you come to this beautiful plaza, we hope the monument starts a conversation. Take a photo. Take a moment.”

Support for the monument dedication was county-wide, with several county mayors in attendance. The program featured the Herriman High School Drumline, the Bingham High School Madrigals, the South Jordan Fire Department Color Guard and an invocation offered by Chaplain (Major) Thomas Berry from the 65th Field Artillery Brigade at Camp Williams. Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah, also attended the event, not just as the district’s congressman, but as Foster’s father-in-law.

“We’ve been raised by generations of men and women who sacrificed for their country, who gave everything,” Owens said. “We had such a remarkable history of men and women who, from the very beginning, created concepts like ‘We the people’ and ‘We’re created equal.’ I hear that. Nothing like this has ever been experienced in the history of mankind. With that process comes those who pay the ultimate price, those who know going in, there’s no guarantee they’ll come home.”

At the conclusion of the dedication, Gold Star Families were invited to come to the monument, introduce the name of their fallen loved one and place an item of remembrance at the memorial, along with a yellow rose.

South Jordan Mayor Dawn Ramsey wants the plaza to offer refuge and peace and invoke contemplation. She invites residents to visit the monument with the intent to educate, learn and share stories.

“Thank you to anyone who in any way helped or donated or played a part in helping us to achieve this goal,” Ramsey said. “And most specifically, thank you to our Gold Star Families. Thank you for your sacrifice, thank you for your patriotism, thank you for your example to the rest of us. Thank you for the reminder that freedom is not free.”