Gold Star wife carries on her husband’s mission
One year ago, at-large delegate Jane Horton buried her husband, Spc. Christopher Horton, with military honors after he was killed by an enemy bullet in Afghanistan. This week, she’s at the Republican National Convention on a mission to honor his memory.
Jane and Chris met as classmates at The King’s College in New York City, where Jane admits with a laugh that it wasn’t love at first sight: she initially thought he was a little quirky.
It was a love of conservative politics that finally brought them together: Chris hired Jane to work on New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s reelection campaign in 2005, which led to a number of political internships and opportunities, including a chance to intern for Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who represented their home state.
Though Chris enlisted in the Army National Guard in 2008 with plans to train as a sniper, his passion for politics didn’t wane.
Chris and Jane were married in 2009, and he deployed to Afghanistan in 2011. Even in a war zone, he was single-minded.
“One of the things that Chris would always say to me in Afghanistan was, I would ask him ‘what can I do for you over there,’ and he would say, ‘could you just get out the vote. What we need is a new president.’ He would write everyone and say this,” remembered Jane.
The devastating knock at the door came Sept. 9, 2011. In a day, Jane’s life was changed: she became a 25-year-old war widow—a Gold Star wife—just trying to weather her grief and honor Chris’s memory on a daily basis.
And it was clear to her that honoring Chris would include continuing to support and promote his Republican values. Jane walked the walk: when protesters from the antiwar Westboro Baptist Church showed up at his funeral and published Chris’s name on their website with the caption “hail to the fallen fool,” Horton was upset, but did not try to stop them.
“Chris died for them to be able to protest,” she said.
In the months since his death, Jane has gained a voice and a cause, speaking out on behalf of Gold Star families and working with Inhofe to make the legal system easier for those who have lost a service member. Still, she said she was amazed to be among those selected as delegates for the RNC.
“I was really blown away, because it’s all state senators and then it’s me,” she said. “Being a part of the political process that’s so unique to only America is just the biggest honor to me.”
Jane believes she is the only Gold Star wife represented at the convention. Even before official business was underway, Horton circulated through the halls, a woman on a mission. She gave distinctive black “KIA” bracelets printed with Chris’s name to media celebrities Geraldo Rivera and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, sharing her story one conversation at a time.
“It means a lot to me when people like that wear (the bracelet),” she said. “When people see it, they remember the fallen soldiers.”
Jane has frustrations with both political parties regarding their seeming neglect of the war in Afghanistan. While the war is a “quagmire,” she said, it’s not being fought as if Americans had a plan to win.
But for this week, she’s keeping her message simple.
“I don’t feel that Chris died for us to live in a country that’s restrictive of our freedoms, with Obama taking them away,” she said.