Friday, September 17, 2010

Always Remember: Heroes from our Past

Left to Right: Me, My Dad, Grandpa
"So come on rally round this brave and valiant cause with tradition, pride, and honor at its core.
With swords drawn to defend stood these noble-hearted men fág an bealach,
clear the way, me boys!!"

100 years ago, on the 18th of September, a hero was born. You may have never heard of him, and I guarantee most of you have not, but to me, to my family, his honor, his legacy, and his spirit live on. Born James Rufus Taylor, but better known to me as "Grandpa". I dedicate this post in his memory, to his honor, and in remembrance of a great man, a great dad, and a hero.

Grandpa was born in the fall of 1910 in Lexington, South Carolina (at the time a small mill town). He lived with his parents,  grandparents, and 7 brothers and sisters. One of his brothers and one of his sisters died when they were very young.  His grandfather, John D, was a Confederate Army Veteran. My father has said before that I could possibly be one of the youngest people alive to have heard second hand accounts of the War between the States.

At the age of 14, Grandpa's mother died during childbirth, and he quit school to help to help support his family. One of his first jobs was working for a local hardware store, taking supplies and tools to the crews that were beginning construction on the Lake Murray Dam, and at the age of 18 he started working in the Lexington Mill. Later on down the road he would meet his wife to be, Elise Pound (Granny), at a tent revival, and they were married in April of 1930.

My Grandpa was very dedicated family man who took pride in what he did, no matter if it was big or small, and even more pride in that he did it for his family. I had the pleasure of conducting a small interview with him for a class project in 6th grade in which he talked about working in the mills. I still remember him talking about getting hurt on the job, and saying that in those days it was common, but you moved on because you had a family to take care of.

"Under perilous conditions with small hope of success they left behind the lives that they once led and by virtue of their fortitude and single-minded strength
they cleared the way for the people of today"

In 1944, Grandpa joined the Navy and was sent to the Pacific. There he would be a part of the Battle of Leyte Gulf and the invasion of the Philippines.  During the invasion, he drove a landing craft that carried marine soldiers from the boats off shore to the island. His craft came under fire from a sniper, and a soldier in the front of the boat was struck down. Grandpa turned the boat so that the soldiers would be sheltered by the bow, and quickly after, marines aboard the craft located and killed a sniper sitting on a buoy in the harbor. He hurt his back while helping to put the craft back on the larger ship, and would later be discharged for his injuries.

After his time in the service, Grandpa and Granny moved from town to town (all nearby to Lexington) as Grandpa was promoted in the mills. He would retire  from the mills in 1965. He worked for several plants as a maintenance mechanic until the mid 1970's, when he retired for good.

My memories of Grandpa are still very vivid to this day. From visiting on the weekends, to listening to him play my very first guitar, to the very last time I saw him. He remains an inspiration to many in our family to this day. Loyal was his commitment to his family, strong was his love for his wife, and passionate was his outlook on life. Even after battling with cancer and losing his voice to it, he was still to be found fishing and camping at Aiken State Park. He would still take off for a drive, and faithfully attended the church where he is now buried.

Grandpa's love for his wife sets an example for many. Granny had Alzheimer's and was eventually placed in a nursing home. Faithfully, adoringly, and with the same love he had for her since 1930, Grandpa would go and visit, and stay for a while to be with his wife. Some days he would just sit in her room, when her focus would be turned in other directions, and her world was different, faithfully he sat, just to be with his wife. Even after surgery for the cancer, when a tornado hit the town in 1994, Grandpa got in his car and took off, trying to get to her, to make sure she was okay. He would later be in the same home before his passing, and would visit her almost daily when he had the strength. His love carried him to her day after day, all the way until the day he died.

So, here's to you, James Rufus Taylor. A great man, an honorable man. A servant to your God, your family, and your country. A man of love, patience, kindness, goodness, and selflessness. "The Lord bless you and keep you." I miss you and think of you often. Thank you for being an example of what it means to be a man, a dad, and a husband in my life. Thank you for the legacy you left behind for future generations. I love you

"And should we fall down by the wayside in this ever-changing world we can look back to these heroes of our past."

Dedicated to: James Rufus Taylor

*Quoted text from "Heroes of our Past" by Dropkick Murphy's

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