Clay and Buck

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T2T: Frank Siller and Widowed Mom of 7 Jennie Taylor Join C&B

6 May 2022

CLAY: Mother’s Day coming up on Sunday, and many people will be celebrating Mother’s Day and are excited to do so, but it’s also for many people out there a challenging day because we’ve lost loved ones, the moms in our lives. And right now we’re joined by two individuals that know all too well how challenging losing a loved one can be, Frank Siller of Tunnel to Towers, who founded the organization that you guys have donated over $5 million to and have done so much tremendous good work, his brother — firefighter who died on 9/11 — and we are also joined by Jennie Taylor.

She is a mother of seven who lost her husband when he was fighting in the War on Terror. Her husband, Army Major Brent Taylor, was killed on his fourth deployment to Afghanistan on November 3rd of 2018. And a week from today we want to say this: Tunnel to Towers is hosting a special concert at the Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville for local military and first responders.

It’s a closed event but they are going to stream it at T2T.org. I’ll start with you, Frank. Thanks for all the work you do with this incredible charity and thanks, by the way, to everybody out there listening to right now who has helped you to be able to do such tremendous work by donating to Tunnel to Towers. Tell me about the event Nashville, what inspired it, who’s going to be there, what it will be like.

SILLER: Well, thanks for having me on, first of all. Jennie, I know you’re on the phone too. Jennie Taylor is a hero in her own right, mother of seven beautiful children, who paid such a big price for a husband serving our country. So, no, we’re so proud that we’re doing this concert. What inspired is we have “Never Forget” concerts that we do. We have a series. We do ’em all over, and we’re doing it in Nashville because these are the people that understand in our country there’s a big price to pay for our freedom.

We’re so honored to have Willie Shaw, Lee Brice, Darryl Worley, Brantley Gilbert, and Old Dominion and others and the whole idea of the night is to say thank you to our country, thank you to those who serve our country, and to let them know that, God forbid something happens, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation is gonna be there to take care of the children that are left behind. They give their kids a kiss good-bye, the wife a kiss good-bye and they don’t come home, and they have a young family?

We’re gonna give them a mortgage-free home and that’s what you guys have been doing, your listeners have been doing, Rush did a beautiful Stand Up for Betsy Ross T-shirt campaign and raised over $5 million, like you said. Kathryn was very much involved with that, his widow, and we can’t thank you guys enough.

BUCK: Thanks so much for being with us. Jennie, I wanted to ask you, as someone who has obviously had to go through what it means to have tremendous sacrifice for the country, what does it mean for you to have the community of veterans — and particularly moms in the veteran community — to lean on and to be there as a source of support, especially on a day like what we’re heading into, Mother’s Day?

TAYLOR: You know, it’s like you said, Mother’s Day is a wonderful day, and it can be a really heavy day. I’m a mom of seven, and my husband, their father is not here, and special holidays and anniversaries just one more day that reminds me of that absence. But there’s no way we could do this alone. You know, Frank Siller’s organization, he has the generosity of your listeners, people around America who have really literally kept us on our feet.

You know, as a mom of seven, I don’t work outside of my house (audio drop) keep them well and keep them fed and keep them as happy, hopeful as they can with what life might throw at them and to be able to have people, other military survivors, other spouses, organizations like Frank’s that say, “Hey, you’re not in this alone. Don’t even try to carry it alone. You can’t, for one thing. But we’re gonna make sure you never have to,” and that has just been unbelievably beautiful. It’s kept us going for these three and a half years.

CLAY: Jennie, tell me about your husband, Major Brent Taylor, and what he was like as a father, and also about your kids and what Tunnel to Towers is allowing you do with your kids by supporting you and also thanks to the support from so many people out there that are listening.

TAYLOR: Yeah, the number-one thing I can say about my husband is he was first and foremost a father. He loved those kids and went to work every day with the military, with his civilian job, whatever he did, it was to keep a roof over those kids’ heads and give them a shot at the American dream. He believed in the American dream. He believed in hope for everyone regardless of your background.

No matter what your socioeconomic class or background, religion, whatever money your parents had, that didn’t matter. He believed everyone could build, could grow, could dream, and he believed that for people around the world, and that’s literally what he died for. Now, for my kids, you know, they’re these beautiful, hopeful children and I see glimpses of my husband in them. I see his hope, his patriotism, his service, and his ambition.

And people like Frank and the beautiful gift they gave us, there’s a lot that I worry about all day every day in raising these kids — and in this crazy world, everything that’s happening right now, you know, one thing I never worry about? I never worry about paying the mortgage. I never worry about keeping a roof over my kids’ head, I never worry that I’m gonna have to rip them out of their neighborhood, their school, their friendships, their support groups right where we live with  huswhen my husband died; we get to stay here.

This is home. He might not be here, but his memory is here, his legacy is here. And thanks to the generosity of your listeners and Frank Siller and everyone else with the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, this home is ours. We get to stay, we don’t have that financial burden to bear, and the kids get to just be and they get to remember the memories we had with my husband here. They get to look around the surroundings he left us with, and they get to stay home. There’s something about home. It’s not the house, right? It’s the home. And that’s what America has given us. And we will be forever grateful.

BUCK: We’re speaking to Frank Siller of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation and Jennie Taylor, a Gold Star wife and also involved with Tunnel to Towers right now. Frank, I wanted to ask you — ’cause, you know, Clay and I we’re Tunnel to Towers donors ourselves and we try to get as many people as possible who listen to us if they are able to donate whatever they can, too, because of the great work that you do. This is a really interesting project, though, the Let Us Do Good Village down at Land O’ Lakes in Florida. Obviously, it’s gonna be all of the moms gathered together down there. Can you tell us a little more about it?

SILLER: Yeah, Buck. You know, we’re so proud of this. We had a large parcel of land donated to us right outside of Tampa, Florida, Land O’ Lakes, and we started this past December. We’re building a village. We’re building about a hundred homes for Gold Star families with young children and for former first responder families with young children and for catastrophically injured service members.

You know, we build specially adapted smart homes for our country’s most catastrophically injured service members. So, we’re building a hundred of these in a community. We have a rec center that is gonna be second to none, ’cause we have a hundred families that have gone through the same thing. They’ve lost their father or mother serving our country or serving our community or they’ve given up their bodies for our country.

Think about all these people coming together and sharing and leaning on each other to help each other through their darkest point in their life and also lifting each other up and giving some hope. I guarantee you in this village you’re gonna hear some love stories with some of these young kids as they grow up and know these other young kids and grow up as adults and end up getting married together ’cause they understand.

They fall in love with each other and it’s gonna be another part of this love story that goes on. This village is done through donations, Buck. We are so fortunate that we have so many people that joined us. But go to T2T.org and donate as little as $11 a month. That’s all we’re asking. Americans, this should be part of the promise we make to anybody serves our country or our community as a first responder if they don’t come home, that we’re gonna give their families that are left behind a mortgage-free home. And we can do that, you know, with $11 a month, and it’s T2T.org.

CLAY: Frank, thanks for all the fantastic work you do. And, Jennie, thank you. Good luck with those seven kids, and thank you so much for the sacrifice your husband made. Everybody out there listening to us right now, T2T.org to help this phenomenal company and charity continue to do the outstanding work that they do. Happy Mother’s Day to you, Jennie, and thanks again, Frank.

TAYLOR: Thank you so much.

SILLER: Happy Mother’s Day, Jennie!

TAYLOR: Hey, thanks, Frank. God bless.

BUCK: Thanks, all.

SILLER: I love you. Bye-bye.

CLAY: Thank you, guys.

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