Large US flag stirs emotions of patriotism, healing for Utah veterans
Jul 7, 2023, 10:40 PM | Updated: Jul 10, 2023, 5:33 am
PLEASANT GROVE, Utah — A canyon in northern Utah County has become home to a powerful symbol of patriotism and healing, thanks to the efforts of an organization known as Follow the Flag.
The group has made it a tradition to fly a large American flag in Grove Creek Canyon during the week of the Fourth of July 4.
It’s hard to miss.
A big dinner/fundraiser is happening in Pleasant Grove tonight where that big 🇺🇸 flag is hanging in the canyon. It's to support Follow The Flag and the group's efforts, including veterans mental health. It's an important topic. We're doing a story on it for @KSL5TV at 10pm #ksltv pic.twitter.com/HpzbTsLsXw
— Alex Cabrero (@KSL_AlexCabrero) July 8, 2023
It’s called Big Betsy and it has been seen across the Wasatch Front for special occasions over the years.
For many people, it is a reminder of the sacrifices made by those who have served.
“It does a lot to my heart. It does a lot to make me feel that people care,” said Phillip Caldwell, who served in the U.S. Army National Guard and was called to active duty in Kuwait during Operation Enduring Freedom.
Seeing the red, white and blue hanging in the canyon does something for him.
“It’s good that people care enough about the country and are willing to share things like this with us,” said Kyle Fox, a cofounder of Follow the Flag.
He knows what this flag and tradition mean to many.
“A lot of people are starting to say this is something that is going to outlive you. And I’m hoping it does,” Fox said.
The group also held a silent auction and dinner fundraiser Friday night at the trailhead leading to the flag.
Part of the money raised will go toward groups helping veterans with mental health issues.
“All of us are suffering from mental health, PTSD, different situations,” Fox said. “We partner with some organizations that know how to help.”
By raising funds and awareness, Follow the Flag hopes to provide support and healing for those who need it.
Caldwell, who has personally witnessed the long-lasting effects on his fellow servicemen and women, said he’s happy to see the issue getting more attention.
“It affects them for years. It’s not just a couple of months, and they’re over it,” Caldwell said.
For Follow the Flag, their mission extends beyond July 4th celebrations.
For them, it’s more than just a day.
“There’s magic that happens beneath this flag in these canyons at these types of events,” Fox said. “What we do is year-round.”