Brent Taylor, the mayor of North Ogden, Utah, was killed in Afghanistan this weekend, just a few months away from finishing his tour. He will not be forgotten by at least one Afghan man who served with him.
Taylor had temporarily stepped down from his position as mayor to deploy to Afghanistan with the Utah Army National Guard. He had already served 12 years as an officer in the United States Army National Guard, and two tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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He celebrated his 15th wedding anniversary last month and leaves behind his wife and their seven children. On Monday morning his family received a letter from Maj. Abdul Rahman Rahmani, an Afghan pilot who served alongside Taylor.
"Tell them that their father was a loving, caring and compassionate man whose life was not just meaningful, it was inspirational," Rahmani wrote. "He died on our soil but he died for the success of freedom and democracy in both of our countries."
Here's the full letter:
Dear Mrs. Taylor,
I am Major Abdul Rahman Rahmani, an Afghan Army Aviation pilot in the Special Mission Wing, stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan, a few miles away from where your honorable husband was shot yesterday by an evil man. I served alongside your husband, MAJ Brent Taylor. I flew missions with him. He was an inspiring man who loved you all. I remember him saying, "Family is not something. It is everything." You may or may not be aware of some of our cultural differences, but in Afghanistan family is not everything, for many of us, family are treated as property. Here, a woman cannot express herself fully, either inside or outside the house. Here, most families treat children unfairly. Let me admit that, before I met Brent, even I did not think that women and men should be treated equally. Your husband taught me to love my wife Hamida as an equal and treat my children as treasured gifts, to be a better father, to be a better husband, and to be a better man.
Mrs. Taylor, Jennie, if I may call you that, I have lost eight members of my own family, including my father, three uncles and two cousins in this devastating war brought on to our nation during last 30 years. I have lost too many friends to mention. I have personally been wounded two times. I still have the scars of this brutal war on my right leg. However, I will continue to still fight this "good fight" in the words of your respectful husband. I am fighting for a great cause, as Brent said, "you fight for not only the safety of Afghans, but the safety of my family back in Utah. It is your fight that keeps us out of fear and out of reach of global terrorism. We [Americans] don't want another 9/11 to happen in the United States.
Jennie, please pass my words to your seven children, whom I consider as brothers and sisters to my own five children, Taha, Taiba, Tawab, Aqsa and Wahab. Tell them that their father was a loving, caring and compassionate man whose life was not just meaningful, it was inspirational. I gained a great deal of knowledge from him and I am a better person for having met him. Were he here, I know he would not take any credit for that, but I want you to know it and to hear it from me. I am writing this letter to you about a man whom I considered a close friend, and whom I dearly loved. A leader; one who was the first to volunteer for any tough assignment. Never stop telling them what a great man their father was, he was a true patriot. He died on our soil but he died for the success of freedom and democracy in both of our countries. In his last message that I shared on my Twitter, he awakened not only Americans, but the world to the values of democracy and freedom.
I want you all to know that most Afghans feel extreme sorrow and pain over the loss of your husband and father. When you think of our country and his sacrifice, I can't imagine your sorrow or sense of loss, but please don't think that the violent act that took his life is representative of our sentiments towards Americans. On behalf of my family and Brent's friends here in the Special Mission Wing, we pledge to continue to work hard until the end, the day when peace will return to our country and violence and hatred no longer claim the lives of both of our countrymen. I assure you that the one who shot him only represents evil and violence. I pray that God will give you strength, peace and show you his blessings in this time of great sorrow.
Please accept my condolence and sympathy.
God bless you.
In deep sorrow,
Maj. Adbul Rahman Rahmani, Special Mission Wing Pilot, from Afghanistan.