Memorial Day- Living in his honorable memory… My Grandpa Taggart

 

On this Memorial Day, I would like to remember one of those who died in the protection of our country, my Grandfather… Always I will be a living memory of my Grandfather of whom I am named after, he being Charles McLeister Taggart and I being the same but added in the end “ the 2nd”… And such a proud name I have, wondering if I will ever truly fulfill such a great person footsteps, though I know I have a good start in the descriptions of his memory and stories I have been told of his life…

As I grew up, one of the few memories I cherish of my father, but at 12, he gave me one of these few memories the day when he pulled from the shelves a gray box with silver dual lines and the signs of time on the edges… He told me I was the “Only son of an only song of an only son- the third generation of having our family name Taggart… Within this box, as he opened it, he told me how the namesake I was given the honor of having, my grandfather’s name… He then pulled out a black and white photo of my grandfather, in his navy suit and a smile more like a smirk and a gleam within his eyes as if he is holding within some form of happiness about to be shared in teasing for laughter, which I was told my grandmother I have the same smirk and smile too…  He gave me this photo, telling me; “Grandpa is always with you, be proud”…

The gray tattered box in his hands were the most cherished of memories my Father has of him, an envelope with the letter from the President was first opened and he read it aloud to me, the honor of my Grandfather’s passing in World War II… He explained first of his memory of his mother receiving it in early spring… Upon this fine parchment I remember seeing the President’s Seal and what later I would know where the tear marks of my grandmother upon the letter as she first read it… He read of the date the ship escort destroyer USS Frederick Davis…

Lt. Charles M. Taggart was killed along with 114 crewmates when a German U-boat off the Atlantic coast of Europe sank the USS Frederick C. Davis on April 24, 1945.

He then would take out two boxes in one was a metal of Honor, and the other a purple heart, with my name on it without the 2nd… And he would tell me his memories so few of his father, and the stories that Uncle Harry would tell him- what a great man he was- polite, honorable, intelligent and always wanting to give someone a hand to help and a smile… My Father then put all and everything into the box and put it away telling me someday he would give these things to me, as I am the last heir to his memory and the family name Taggart… This is something of all the promises my father has given but broken, I am wishful and pray he would keep at least just this one…

My Grandfather was also a great sportsmen at Syracuse University, playing both Football and Basketball and was one of the undefeated 1931 freshman basketball team…
http://www.orangehoops.org/CTaggart.htm

Syracuse University Football:
1931– The Orange outscored its opponents 238-56 en route to a 7-1-1 record.
1932– The program enjoyed its 250th victory, a 27-6 win against Oglethorpe.

The next time I am on campus I am going to go to the Sports department and see if I might find photos of my Grandfather playing basketball or football and also see if there are any of my Grandmother’s brother Uncle Al who was also a great football player for Syracuse University…  The last time I did I got kind of off target and instead got to talk to the Basketball couch at that time, but that’s another story…

Even though I was a bit rebellious of going to SU when I first finished High School I am proud now to be a third generation SU grad of my family college on both my Mom’s and Father’s sides of the family and how deep the history is there of also many cousins and uncles and aunts that also attended Syracuse University…

It was at Syracuse University my Grandmother met my Grandfather, in an illustration class, in Figure Drawing… A tale I smile in remembering my Gram telling, Gram who was in her 1st year at SU majoring in illustration… Her paper was empty as he was embarrassed to look let alone draw the male nude the class was suppose to be sketching… She would smile, as if reliving the moment again, and also seemed to blush at the thought then say; “Your grandfather was a bit of a teaser and popular with the woman and well known in the art department for his artistic abilities walked up with the professor, who was about to say something to me about her not drawing, when your grandfather said-“Oh what a beautiful drawing of a polar bear in a blizzard, but where is the man you should be drawing?” Gram would seem to blush and smile telling me he loved to make her smile with jokes…

She also told me, not only did I remind her of him, in my love of art and drawing but she and my Great Uncle Harry would say, I was artistic like him, was somewhat soft spoken as he was, even walking and carried myself physically as he did… Gram would say that I even loved fishing and hunting just as he did, loving being out in the woods and streamside enjoying nature…

Every Memorial Day, I spend a bit of time and open a box my Gram gave me, his baby book that shows 4 generations of the family tree and the first of my Taggart linage that came to the US, letters he sent her when he was off to war… I will thumb through the baby book and wonder of their lives these family members names without faces and no photos that I have of them, thinking of the photos that Gram might have had, that my father I hope my sister Beth didn’t steal… Open one of the letters and try to read it, but even though it has been now 20 years that I have owned these parchments and his beautiful handwriting and a love that seems to even glow within these sweet words, I have yet to ever finish one with out some tears falling down my cheek… Even now I have this box to my left, computer in front of me and an espresso to my right, just the thought to touch the paper that also holds marks of tears upon them, I feel my eyes start to water some…

So I sit thinking of Gram and Uncle Harry’s stories of Grandpa Taggart… He was my Great Uncle Harry’s best friend in High School and introduced Uncle Harry to my Gram’s sister Harriet… My Cousin Nancy would tell me that the love between Uncle Harry and Aunt Harriet was that which you could see a glow around of true love and that same glow was also around Gram and Grandpa Taggart, somewhat a legendary love within our family, it being so deep… This too I could see each time Gram would talk of Grandpa Taggart… She would even tell me to my extreme surprise that he brought her to a Speak Easy and how he was so light upon his feet as he danced with her to big band music of the 30’s…

Each fall, while I was at Syracuse I would also go back home or go to the woods near Syracuse and go hunting and fishing… Bringing back venison, rabbit, pheasant and grouse or fish I might catch to share with Gram and Grandpa Davis. She would tell me of how Grandpa Taggart would go hunting and fishing with the Minister of the Church in Malone and bring back small game for Gram to cook or venison… She would tell me she never cared much for Venison till I started to bring it home as I think Grandpa Taggart was having it butchered wrong… She then grew to really enjoy my filling their freezer with venison and each meal she would tell me some stories of Grandpa Taggart bring home small game or fish he would get with Uncle Harry or the minister… I like to think that my Grandfather would be proud of my hunting and fishing as Uncle Harry use to also fish and helped in teaching me how to hike and use a compass to navigate the woods of streams he and my grandfather had fished and laughed…  It is these simple memories and stories that Gram and Uncle Harry would tell me of Grandpa Taggart always think to when I am out in the woods or streamside…

It is these memories and stories of a man I am named after but never met, that I hope I can somehow live up to be just as honorable, caring of others and be able to give just as many smiles in my jokes and laughter as he, my grandfather, Charles M. Taggart…

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6 Responses

  1. all my respect & honors for your grand father , grand mother & you ! a such wonderful article that touch deeply my heart !
    Every where in that globe, there is a grand father , uncle brother ,cousin or one of the relatives or neighbors or may be a friend somewhere who scarified himself for the country and the nation !
    my grand father is one of them too , he was that time 19 years old when they took him to fight for a country not his country ( in that time was the french colonization) he did breath the toxic gazes when his mask was removed & from that time he did not survive a lot he died in the age of 30 , after being married & having kids few years only !

    shortly , i want to say , so many still are dying for something & some are dying for nothing , i wish that every body will leave for only one thing the love for the humanity & human !
    that is the love of god !
    thanks a lot for your great article , pls give me a wink for the next one pls !
    FATIN

    • Fatin,
      Thank you for leaving the response… I agree, there are now so many dying for unjust reasons, not only our solders but also so many civilians…

  2. I just read your entry. I am Marc Tepe and my grandfather, William Glass, was also on the USS frederick Davis.
    I have just recently started researching into my grandfather and the DE-136.
    Just wanted to say how lucky you are to have such strong ties to your grandfather.
    We owe such a debt to those brave men.
    Thanks for the article.

  3. Thank you Marc for leaving a comment, it means a lot to finally hear one of the relatives of another crew member from the battleship…

    I am sorry for your loss and understand the want to look into it… I did some looking into my grandfather’s history on campus, but that was 20+ years ago… I wasn’t able then to find much from the Navy… Keep me posted what you might find out, I would be very interested!!!

    I do know at some point I need to go down to Arlington cemetery the pay my respect to his memory and the ultimate sacrifice he and all gave who fell for our country…

    You can find me in Google+ – http://gplus.to/CharlesTaggart

    • Charles, Just now saw your response. I have been able to collect many pictures of the crew and ship, plus documents from the navy. If you are ever interested in getting those just let me know. I would be glad to send them to you.
      MArc Tepe
      TheTepster@gmail.com

  4. You have done a wonderful tribute to your grandfather here. Those who have lost their lives in war protecting the country can never be thanked enough.

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