NORTH OGDEN — A gigantic U.S. flag inspired by Brent Taylor, the North Ogden mayor killed while serving last year in Afghanistan, has been finished and will soon make its formal public debut.
Preliminary plans call for flying of the giant banner from Coldwater Canyon each November around the anniversary of Taylor's Nov. 3, 2018, death — from around Election Day through Veteran's Day on Nov. 11. But boosters behind its creation are emphatic on one point. The quarter-acre-sized flag, similar to another that flew in the canyon from Nov. 11 to 18 last year, is more than a tribute to the late Utah Army National Guard major.
"It's not Brent's flag. It's not my flag. It's not my family's flag," said the man's widow, Jennie Taylor. "It's so much more."
Rather, the flag, measuring 150 feet by 78 feet with five-feet tall stars, is meant as a tribute to U.S. military veterans everywhere. It's meant as a reminder of the freedoms and liberties the nation was founded on. It's meant to inspire patriotism.
"It's just so big. It just screams everything that a flag should. It's a larger-than-life symbol of what America stands for, for me," said Kirk Chugg. Chugg helped spearhead fundraising for the flag via a newly formed nonprofit group, Follow the Flag North Ogden, an extension of Follow the Flag in Pleasant Grove, which flies a similarly sized flag in Grove Creek Canyon there to mark the Fourth of July.
Jennie Taylor, her and Brent Taylor's seven kids and others involved in Follow the Flag gathered last week at the Mountain America Expo Center in Sandy to unfurl the new banner bound for North Ogden. They installed grommets and gave it a final inspection, and it'll make its debut as a finished product on May 4 at the premiere of Healing Flight 1. That's a documentary to be shown for free at Walker Cinemas 6 at 1610 N. Washington Blvd. in North Ogden that focuses on the effort behind the flying of the flag in Coldwater Canyon last year.
The new flag will actually be folded while on display in the Walker Cinemas 6 lobby. Still, its size stands out, measuring eight- or nine-feet high when folded, and Jennie Taylor noted the experience of seeing it up close last week in Sandy.
"The size and scope of the flag are just unimaginable," she said. "You just can't believe how big it is."
Brent Taylor had been on leave as North Ogden mayor when he was killed in November while nearing the end of a year-long military deployment in Afghanistan. A member of the Afghan special forces group he was helping train turned on him and attacked him, according to officials.
The death reverberated across Utah and beyond, and one of the many tributes to the man was the flying of the flag in Coldwater Canyon just east of North Ogden from Nov. 11 to 18. Hanging from cables strung across the gap, the flag — loaned by Follow the Flag in Pleasant Grove — was visible in North Ogden and beyond. That experience gave rise to creation of Follow the Flag North Ogden and fundraising for the flag here.
The boosters collected $50,000, all of it from the private sector, enough to cover the cost of the new flag, made by Sandy-based Colonial Flag, Chugg said. That should also help fund the cost of bringing it out for its showing each year going forward.
As with Jennie Taylor, the flag -- named The Major -- conjures up memories of Brent Taylor, said Chugg. The late mayor was a good friend. Like Jennie Taylor, though, he also said the broader intent when it's flown each November will be to inspire patriotism and respect for veterans. "I think Veteran's Day is a very under-celebrated holiday," said Chugg.
Beyond that, he hopes the flying of the flag here becomes an anticipated tradition. "I hope kids grow up in North Ogden (thinking) that's just what happens on Veteran's Day," he said.