Follow the Flag cofounder Kyle Fox hopes to rekindle patriotism by flying a giant American flag at Grove Creek Canyon in Pleasant Grove.
Fox and Ron Nix started Follow the Flag, a nonprofit organization, in 2015 to promote patriotism. The flag they flew for the first two years was only 30 by 60 inches. This year’s flag weighs 400 pounds and is a quarter of an acre in size — nearly the size of all the floors in the BYU Student Athlete Building laid out together. The flag is the largest American flag to ever be flown.
The enormous flag will be raised on July 4 and stay up until July 10.
Fox said patriotism has become “fragile” in America, and he wants to make sure veterans know people care about their service.
“We want to reach more people, more veterans,” Fox said.
Fox said he wants kids to know the Fourth of July is about more than a barbecue, a parade and fireworks. He said the holiday is about learning about the people who fought for the United States and helping people understand “why we became free and why we’re free and recognizing that in our everyday lives.”
Fox said there’s a second reason the flag is bigger this year.
“The other side of it is the male in us, I guess,” Fox said. “You gotta go bigger.”
To get the flag up the canyon, the flag will be bundled up like a snake, and Boy Scouts will carry it up the hill, each with a section on his shoulder. Once they get to the site where the flag will fly, they will use carabiners to clip the flag onto the line, which will be extended across the canyon, and “shower curtain it” across the canyon.
Fox said the line will be AmSteel rope, and “all of the calculations tell us it will hold.”
Throughout the process of creating the flag, people have talked to Fox about flag etiquette — if the American flag touches the ground, it’s supposed to be burned. Fox said the flag has touched the ground because of its size, but it doesn’t need to be burned.
“With a flag this size, we definitely have that in mind,” Fox said. “In the construction of it and then prepping it and folding it — all those things, you know — we give it the most respect and honor that we can. Floors are kept clean, reverent.”
Fox said people in the community have been touched by seeing the flag in the canyon in previous years. One woman approached Fox while he was watching the flag and told him it reminded her of her 18-year-old son who had died serving the country. Another woman chose to spread the ashes of her husband under the flag.
BYU alumna Becky Nelson said she has seen the flag hanging in the canyon the past two years.
“It’s amazing,” Nelson said. “It puts a lump in your throat and pride in your heart, and you wonder how on earth they got it up there.”
Nelson said it makes her emotional to see the flag hanging in the canyon because she’s patriotic and loves her country. She said having the flag hanging in Pleasant Grove catches people’s attention and provides an opportunity to teach the younger generation how important the flag is to Americans.
Trevor Barton, a soldier serving in Afghanistan, saw something on the news about the flag in Grove Creek Canyon and showed his troop. Barton, a Utah native, said he was happy to see a project that honored what he was doing.
“The idea and concept has an energy about it that is encouraging, ambitious and uplifting — something we appreciated as service members so far from home,” Barton said in an email. “It was a break from the seemingly negative atmosphere that has become pervasive in the news, political and social climate that we were hearing about.”
Barton and his troop contacted Fox and asked to donate their troop streamer to fly along with the flag this year. A troop streamer represents “campaigns, accomplishments and the pride/motivation of the United States Army in a simple glance,” Barton said.
“Since our streamer represented such a diverse group of people working together towards a common goal, we felt it would enhance and support the message of Follow the Flag in reminding ourselves and our fellow Americans that unity over divisiveness will always be the path to accomplishment,” Barton said.