A somber mood was prevalent in Berne City Council chambers on Monday evening as city officials paused to tearfully remember one of their own.
After spending the first hour of Monday's meeting attending to routine city business, council members concluded their evening with an emotional tribute to Nick Taylor, who was killed a week earlier while serving his country in Afghanistan.
Council President Gregg Sprunger choked back tears as he read a special resolution prepared by city leaders in honor of Taylor. Everyone in the room stood with heads bowed as the resolution was read, and heavy hearts and immense grief were clearly evident.
The document cited Taylor as a 2010 graduate of South Adams High School, "where he was a standout athlete in football, wrestling and track, excelled academically and lived his life with faith and values shared by his church and community"
Taylor, 20, of Berne, died on July 16 representing the Indiana National Guard in the country of Kandahar Providence, Afghanistan. He was the son of City of Berne Police Chief Timothy and Stephania Taylor, and brother of Drew and sisters Holly and Sophia.
The council resolution said Taylor "made the ultimate sacrifice for his country when he died from injuries sustained from a rocket-propelled grenade and small-arms fire attack while he was on a bomb route clearance patrol ...
"Now therefore, be it resolved ... that the city of Berne, Indiana hereby honors the service and sacrifice of Spc. Nicholas A. Taylor of the Indiana National Guard and his family, and the citizens of Berne, Indiana are encouraged to recognize and remember the valor, heroism and dedication exhibited by Spc. Nicholas A. Taylor, who fought bravely for the liberty and freedom of each and every American ..."
"This has been a rough week for everybody," said Mayor Bill McKean, himself a military veteran of the Vietnam war. "I've experienced some of this, on the other side of the pond, and it's not very pleasant from either side. Our hearts are with the Taylor family."
Councilman Ron Dull said Taylor and others serving their country "are doing things that are very difficult. If they were easy, anyone could do it."
Funeral services for Taylor are scheduled for July 31, and Dull said the following week will be a difficult one for city residents. "It's going to be a challenge, but we'll get through this, because we're a strong community."
Sprunger said the tragedy "has been especially tough on our police department, and I think we need to keep them in our prayers this week."
Earlier in the meeting, McKean sought and received council approval of an executive order granting a special bereavement day to all city employees on July 31.
"I'd like to shut the city down that day so all city employees, if they so choose, can attend the funeral of Nick Taylor," McKean said.