NORTH OGDEN — What started as an outpouring of support last year after the death of Brent Taylor in Afghanistan is morphing into what backers hope becomes an annual event centered on Veterans Day.
The aim, though, isn’t to honor just Taylor, who had served as North Ogden’s mayor. Kirk Chugg of Follow the Flag North Ogden said planned Flag Week activities in North Ogden, which go from Nov. 2-12, are meant as a tip of the hat to everyone who has served in the U.S. military, now or in the past.
“I hope that it kind of brings to the forefront of our community that Veterans Day is something to be celebrated,” said Chugg. His aim, he said, is to raise the profile of the day and convey “that we see (veterans) in the community and we appreciate their service. I just really want to say thank you to them.”
Focused on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, activities start Nov. 2, when The Major, a giant oversized flag, will be unfurled in Coldwater Canyon, just east of North Ogden. That’s a day before the one-year anniversary of Taylor’s death in Afghanistan, on Nov. 3, 2018, while nearing the end of a year-long deployment there with the Utah Army National Guard.
The giant 150 feet by 78 feet flag, finished last April, is modeled after a flag flown by Follow the Flag in Pleasant Grove each year to mark the Fourth of July. That Pleasant Grove flag was the banner flown in Coldwater Canyon last year.
On Nov. 3, a Veterans Day Community Program, as it’s dubbed, will be held at the Barker Park Amphitheater in North Ogden from 5-6 p.m. Jennie Taylor, Brent Taylor’s widow, will speak and local music groups will perform as well.
“Day of service” activities are planned for Nov. 11 at the North View Senior Center.
Organizers are also sponsoring a Field of Honor, a display of 300 5 feet by 3 feet flags, each with a tag bearing the name and other details of military servicemen and women from the area. They will be on display at Barker Park for the Nov. 3 activities and then be moved to the plaza in front of North Ogden City Hall, 505 E. 2600 North, where they will remain until Nov. 12, also when The Major is to come down.
Organizers seek the names of area servicemen, serving and retired, living and dead, to place on the tags on the Field of Honor flags. More details, including how to submit names, can be found at healingfield.com/followtheflag.
Taylor’s death shocked many in North Ogden, the rest of Utah and beyond. He had taken a year leave as mayor to serve in Afghanistan and was killed, U.S. officials say, by a member of the Afghani special forces group he was helping train who turned on him.
“It’s still very fresh. Those of us who knew him, we think of him every day,” Chugg said.
However, Carin Chugg, another Flag Week organizer and the wife of Kirk Chugg, noted the deaths in recent months of two other service members with connections to the North Ogden area, also a shock to many. U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Jared Reaves died July 5 of acute lymphoblastic leukemia and U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Elliott Robbins died June 30 while serving in Afghanistan in a non-combat related incident.
The role the U.S. armed forces serve in protecting the nation has “been fresh in the community’s mind for a year,” she said.
The activities will come during Election Day, Nov. 5, and Kirk Chugg said that, too, figures in the timing of the activities. Brent Taylor, as an elected official, was a big proponent of the U.S. democratic process, while Chugg noted the role of the armed forces in protecting the U.S. system of government.
Voting is “not a right to be taken lightly. You should fill out your ballot and make sure it gets in the box,” Chugg said.