A Community Remembers “Our Hero”

By Max Resnik

July 31, 2012 Updated Jul 31, 2012 at 5:56 PM EDT

BERNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – As several hundred Adams County community members traveled to Berne for the funeral of an army specialist who died in battle, others in the community continued to commemorate his life with messages and signs of appreciation.

Army Spc. Nick Taylor, 20, of Berne, was killed in action in Afghanistan July 16 as the result of a rocket propelled grenade attack. Tuesday, Taylor’s body was laid to rest.

Traveling along US 27, signs lining the highway read “Our Hero, Nick Taylor.” They could be seen, waving in the grass, miles before entering Decatur. As the ride into town continued, businesses, homes and lawns displayed more of their own original messages of gratitude and pride for a young man who made the ultimate sacrifice.

One community member, Jerre Nichols, owner of Black Bear Inn and Suites in Berne, used his hotel to show his support for the Taylor family. He made rooms available at his hotel free of charge for military members making the trip to Berne to pay their respects. Nichols says it was a small gesture representative of the whole Berne community.

“I think this is the spirit of the Berne community. We're a very giving community. We try our best to take care of one another and when something like this happens, a tragedy, for a fine young man, fine family, the community gets behind it. And this is just a reaction of—this is just a small thing we can do, but many other people have done many other things.”

Nichols, who made rooms available for free Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights, says his hotel was close to sold out throughout the weekend with many of those rooms occupied by service members and their families. Nichols says Berne’s response to Taylor’s death has been remarkable.

“It’s been phenomenal. We’ve talked to some of the military and they’ve indicated that they have been to a lot of tributes like this and this is by far the best that they have seen.”

Steve Dellinger also reflected on the appreciation and compassion enveloping the Berne community in the two weeks since Taylor’s death. Having experienced his own tragedy with the loss of his wife in 2009, Dellinger says he knows exactly what it means to have a community’s support.

“For me to be apart of that is just wonderful. I’ve been through some tragedy in my life and family and the community’s always been there. Lost my wife a couple years ago, and the chief, all the police department, everyone was there. The church has been great. We attended church with the Taylors and sat next to them quite often so just a very tight knit family. The whole community is wonderful.”

Taylor was buried at M.R.E. Cemetery in Berne.

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