This year’s Freedom Festival Grand Parade’s grand marshals represent freedom and support of the country’s military.
Jennie Taylor and her seven children will be honored as grand marshals, along with actor and martial artist Chuck Norris.
Jennie Taylor’s husband, Maj. Brent Taylor, was killed in the line of duty while serving with the Utah Army National Guard in Afghanistan in November. He was also the mayor of North Ogden at the time of his death. Jennie Taylor and her seven children love community celebrations and want to continue her husband’s legacy of service to and support of freedom and country, she said.
Norris was chosen to be honored because of his strong support of the armed forces and veterans, according to Dorene Nelson, Freedom Festival committee member. The grand marshals are chosen by the parade committee and Freedom Festival board members.
“These events that include an honor for Brent have really helped us because they fill our hearts with humility and gratitude and gratitude softens grief. We are heartbroken over the loss of Brent, to put it mildly, but we are also incredibly proud of him and humbled by the incredible outpouring of community support,” Taylor said. “We don’t know why or how we’ve ended up in the public position in which we currently find ourselves, but feel honored to represent the thousands of other military families in our state, especially our fellow Gold Star families. Brent’s military service has always been a family commitment — and one we have been proud to fulfill.”
Maj. Taylor was a huge fan of Chuck Norris, according to Jennie Taylor, and her children are excited about the possibility of meeting him during the festivities associated with the Freedom Festival. In fact, Jennie Taylor recently came across a journal entry in her husband’s military memoir about sharing Chuck Norris jokes with his soldiers.
“That will make it a huge honor for our family and it will feel like a special piece of Brent right here with us,” Jennie Taylor said.
According to Jennie Taylor, she and her children will have the opportunity to participate in this year’s parade, the Freedom Awards Gala and the Stadium of Fire with Keith Urban singing and other performances on the evening of the July 4.
“It will be our honor to meet the other grand marshals, along with the incredible people who put the Freedom Festival together every year,” she said. “My oldest two kids are most excited about the chance to ride in a hot air balloon early in the morning of (July) 5th. ... We are more grateful than words can say for the faith, hope and charity that have been offered in our behalf,” Jennie said.