LOGAN, Utah — A few dozen people gathered around the massive flagpole in the Logan Macey’s parking lot Saturday morning as uniformed National Guard members winched Old Glory into the cloudy sky.

Moments later, the store manager fired off a howitzer, startling several attendees.

The simple flag ceremony was the start of Macey’s Armed Forces Day breakfast and was performed at all Utah locations of the grocery store chain.

“As you know, at Macey’s we proudly fly the flag,” Logan Store Director Jordan Resch said, referring to the 30-foot by 60-foot American flags flown at each Macey’s location. “And that’s one of the reasons why we want our customers to know how much we appreciate and respect the flag and also respect our armed forces.”

Resch said Macey’s used to have similar events every year around Memorial Day, and the Utah chain hopes to bring that tradition back.

While the howitzer may have woken a few residents still asleep at 8 a.m., it was, of course, loaded with a blank. Sgt. Matthew Blake, a National Guard recruiter, said the Pack Howitzer used at the event is the same one they fire at Utah State Football games. It’s outfitted with an adapter that allows them to fire 10- or 12-gauge shotgun blanks.

Blake said both local National Guard units were drilling on Saturday, but at future Macey’s events he hopes to see more soldiers and equipment. Blake believes it’s important for the local National Guard to help pay tribute to veterans.

“Obviously we’re still in, but we want to really shout out to those guys that came before. Especially the World War II vets that are still around,” Blake said. “Not very many of them are left. Those guys did so much for this country, and oftentimes they’re forgotten. So that’s a huge deal for me to try and show respect for those guys, and even Vietnam, that kind of stuff.”

Logan resident Charles Williams rode his bike through the damp weather to attend. Williams was stationed in Okinawa with the Third Marine Division during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

“I’m a veteran, so I’m here for free pancakes,” Williams said. “I always want to be where they have activities for the week, because the summer is coming.”

Ty and Whitney Lewis of Logan brought their sons, Jett, 4, and Vincent, 2.

“We saw it advertised, and we like breakfast so we came to have breakfast,” Ty said. “But also, her (Whitney’s) brother serves in the military, and so anywhere we can, we like to give our thanks and pay our respects to all military everywhere.”

Whitney said she appreciated the gesture.

“It’s awesome Macey’s is doing this,” Whitney said.

Ty said through events like Saturday’s he hopes to pass on his and Whitney’s respect for servicemembers.

“I hope we can raise a generation that learns to respect the armed forces also,” Ty said.

staff writer

Steve Kent is city editor for The Herald Journal.