NORTH OGDEN — Before daylight and into the evening, hundreds of Utahns took part in observances Sunday to honor Maj. Brent Taylor, the city's mayor, who was shot and killed Nov. 3 while deployed to Afghanistan with the Utah National Guard.

Before the sun rose, a local group called Follow the Flag assembled at Weber High School to begin the preparations to fly what is billed as the world’s largest free-flying flag above Cold Water Canyon.

Friends, law enforcement officials, supporters and members of Follow the Flag carried the massive flag to a spot in the canyon where it was unfurled and carefully suspended on a steel cable across the canyon.

Brent Taylor stands atop the Gharib Ghar peak in Afghanistan while holding an American flag and a photo of John Scharf.
Brent Taylor stands atop the Gharib Ghar peak in Afghanistan while holding an American flag and a photo of John Scharf. | Brent Taylor via Facebook

As night fell, a spotlight illuminated the flag, which is expected to remain in place a week.

A smaller version of the massive flag was carried into a vigil Sunday night at North Ogden Amphitheater, which culminated with Taylor's wife addressing the audience.

Jennie Taylor said her heart is "full of love," for the nation and her "home, sweet home" of North Ogden for the many kindnesses extended to her family since her husband's death.

"(I'm) so full of love for the beautiful flag that flies in that beautiful canyon," she said.

While Taylor and the couple's seven children, ages 13 years to 11 months, are coping with what is a time of "shock and sorrow," Taylor said her husband's devotion to God, family and country give her comfort.

As she stood along the flight line at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware when her husband's remains were returned to the United States, she said she thought about his commitment to service and patriotism.

"What an honor it is to be the wife of a true patriot," she said.

This undated photo provided by the Utah National Guard shows Maj. Brent Taylor of the Utah National Guard. Taylor, mayor of North Ogden, died in Afghanistan on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018, City Councilman Phillip Swanson said. Taylor was deployed to Afghanista
This undated photo provided by the Utah National Guard shows Maj. Brent Taylor of the Utah National Guard. Taylor, mayor of North Ogden, died in Afghanistan on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018, City Councilman Phillip Swanson said. Taylor was deployed to Afghanistan in January with the Utah National Guard for what was expected to be a 12-month tour of duty. Taylor previously served two tours in Iraq and one tour in Afghanistan. | Utah National Guard

Brent Taylor volunteered for a NATO mission to train members of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. While on a foot patrol, one of the Afghan commandos shot and killed Taylor. Other Afghan commandos immediately killed the attacker. Another U.S. service member was injured in the attack.

Funeral arrangements are pending. His obituary, published Sunday, said he will be laid to rest in North Ogden, "the city he so dearly loved, near the people he so willingly served."

Attendees of the evening vigil joined in prayer, reflections about Taylor and performances of patriotic and religious songs.

The Utah trio Gentri offered a stirring performance of "Amazing Grace," as well as a patriotic medley.

Audience members, many of them wrapped in blankets as temperatures dipped into the low 30s, also observed a moment of silence to honor Taylor and others who have died in service of their country.

In an earlier interview with NBC, Taylor's mother and brother likewise remarked on Brent Taylor's capacity for compassion and his devotion to service.

What's being billed as the world’s largest free-flying flag hangs in Cold Water Canyon in North Ogden on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. The huge flag was displayed by a local group called Follow the Flag in honor of North Ogden Mayor Brent Taylor who was killed e
What's being billed as the world’s largest free-flying flag hangs in Cold Water Canyon in North Ogden on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. The huge flag was displayed by a local group called Follow the Flag in honor of North Ogden Mayor Brent Taylor who was killed earlier this month in Afghanistan. | Qiling Wang, Deseret News

His mother, Tamara Taylor, and his brother, Derek Taylor, say they find comfort in reflecting on the many lives he changed.

“It’s been so nice to hear how he helped other people and how he touched other people because that’s something that we can hold onto,” Tamara Taylor said.

His mother said she will miss "everything about him. … It’s just going to be very difficult, but he was such a good man."

She said her sons became interested in the military at an early age.

Delwin Stucki, left, Nila Stucki, and Dixie Stucki take a photo of the flag put up by a local group called Follow the Flag in honor of the late North Ogden Mayor Brent Taylor at Cold Water Canyon in North Ogden on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018.
Delwin Stucki, left, Nila Stucki, and Dixie Stucki take a photo of the flag put up by a local group called Follow the Flag in honor of the late North Ogden Mayor Brent Taylor at Cold Water Canyon in North Ogden on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. | Qiling Wang, Deseret News

"We found stories about military heroes in different wars, and we'd always share them with the boys because it was such a good example of doing the right thing at the right time," Tamara Taylor said.

Brent Taylor and his five brothers all joined the Utah National Guard as adults. Tamara Taylor said deployments were challenging but rewarding.

"I could balance my fear and say, 'It's OK, I can deal with that and I can even deal with a loss if he's making a difference and he's feeling happy serving the people of this country,'" she said.

Taylor, 39, took an unprecedented one-year leave of absence from his post as North Ogden mayor for his deployment in January. He and his fellow soldiers in Afghanistan had worked to keep elections safe in Afghanistan.

What's being billed as the world’s largest free-flying flag hangs in Cold Water Canyon in North Ogden on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. The huge flag was displayed by a local group called Follow the Flag in honor of North Ogden Mayor Brent Taylor who was killed e
What's being billed as the world’s largest free-flying flag hangs in Cold Water Canyon in North Ogden on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018. The huge flag was displayed by a local group called Follow the Flag in honor of North Ogden Mayor Brent Taylor who was killed earlier this month in Afghanistan. | Qiling Wang, Deseret News

In his final Facebook post a few days before he was killed, he talked about how happy it made him to see Afghan people head to the polls despite the threat of violence. He also said he wanted to see unity among Americans.

"'We have more that unites us than divides us,' was what he said. We need to get past Democrats and Republicans, all these groups that are splintered, and realize that we can work together," Tamara Taylor said.

She said it was evident that his work meant something to the people he served with and served.

“He really believed in what he was doing, and he was really making a difference for those people,” she said.

Changing lives overseas wasn't all Derek Taylor said his brother did. He said Brent led by example closer to home.”

“As a mayor, as a husband, as a father, as a brother, as a son, as a soldier,” I think Christ was absolutely central,” Derek Taylor said.

His priority, they said, was family, especially his spouse.

“He wouldn’t be who he was, by any stretch, without his beautiful wife, Jennie, who was there to support him in every avenue.”

They said the support for family and friends never wavered — even for his last and final mission.

“He really felt that he was needed and he could not say no,” his mother said.

Contributing: Sean Moody