Like many of you, the shock of our friend and Mayor Maj. Brent Taylor’s death was followed by much sorrow and a strong desire to do something for his family; anything to help, convey our sympathy, and also our appreciation for the freedoms we enjoy each day. I contemplated on these thoughts through the weekend and into Monday. I knew my friend Kirk Chugg felt these same desires. As we met Tuesday afternoon, we shared our admiration for Brent and the influence he had on North Ogden, our love for his family, and our respect for the impact he had. We knew we had to do something, but what…?
I had been inspired by the Follow the Flag project in Pleasant Grove. We discussed the idea of hanging a large flag in a local canyon, and decided to call Kyle Fox from Follow the Flag. Kyle answered and we introduced ourselves. We then mentioned the circumstances of Brent’s passing and he interrupted and said, “Let me stop you right there, the answer is YES.” We were impressed, we hadn’t even asked anything yet. Our conversation was brief but resounding. We began looking into the possibilities and what resources we had available within our community. Kyle arranged to meet with Kirk and Mark, another friend, to scout out two canyons we thought may work. After hiking and surveying distance and the needed rock outcroppings, Coldwater Canyon was our best choice. Kyle declared that the flag would fly that weekend. We began to sense the comfort and healing this could possibly provide. We were also eager and excited that this was Veterans Day Weekend as well as the 100th anniversary of the Armistice of World War I.
That evening, knowing we needed to get things progressing, Kirk called a planning meeting to organize our committee and make plans that would see the flag fly on Sunday morning. Our committee consisted of myself, Kirk Chugg, Mark Miller, Mark Horton, JD Parry, Ryan Stallings, Brent Jensen, and Jed Malmberg. As our committee consulted with the Follow the Flag team in Pleasant Grove, we were amazed with everyone’s response and willingness to make this work. We could sense that this was something bigger than us all. With the amazing efforts of many hands willing to pitch in and provide expertise and equipment, things started falling into place. No one we reached out to said no.
The anchors were put in place Friday. Then early Saturday morning we headed up Coldwater Canyon to set the main line and tag lines that would hold the flag. We had a skilled drone pilot fly a small spider wire (100lb test line) across the canyon that then allowed a north and south team to pull the needed rope lines across the canyon. By late morning the lines were in place and the excitement was building.
At 6:00 am Sunday morning a group of about 50 volunteers met at the Weber High Football field to prep the flag. As the appropriately named flag, Big Betsy, pulled up and we respectfully unloaded the flag and prepared it, the experience was life changing. It was cold, it was dark, and it was the only place any of us there would have chosen to be. Once prepared, we loaded the flag into a truck and headed to the Equestrian Park to meet up with over a hundred volunteers, from Weber Search and Rescue, Wasatch Wranglers trail running community, and many others who heard and knew they wanted to be a part of this. The significance of this day, why we were all there, and the tribute to Brent Taylor’s life, was poignantly felt by all. Everyone was eager to take part in carrying the 400lb flag and gracious in sharing the load up the mountain. Upon arriving at the top, where the flag would fly, preparations were quickly made allowing the flag to be hoisted into the canyon on the prepared lines. Once in place, several of us heaved on the rip cord allowing the flag to then unfurl in the morning breeze.
It was cold, but as the flag unfurled and the sun crested above the mountain, the moment was perfect. Many tears were shed and the moment was captured in our hearts and minds. The National Anthem was sung as many volunteers attempted to join in. We all felt the magnitude and pride of being American. Our Flag of the United States of America symbolizes service, sacrifice, hard work, freedom, love and healing, among many things our dear friend and Mayor, Brent Taylor, stood for. Many volunteers expressed how they never wanted to leave. We knew we were not alone in this endeavor. The presence of angels was real, and it was our honor to share the splendor of this magnificent flag and the hope it shares.