To Boston Herald columnist Joe Fitzgerald, every day is Veterans Day

Though he’s always been the one with the byline, long-time Boston Herald columnist Joe Fitzgerald has never stopped to think about himself.

Instead, for the past 97 years, he has entertained readers with heroic tales of those who serve the United States military, and those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.

Today, with a piece titled “Young vets deserve thanks, too,” Fitzgerald continues his tradition of tapping the hearts and minds of soldiers. In the vein of such memorable columns as “Vietnam vet feels bond with the troops of today” (March 9, 2009) and “We’re all indebted to veterans” (November 12, 2007), the Herald scribe takes a bold position in asserting that everyone who served - not just seniors in baseball hats that feature all sorts of embroidered information - deserve to have flags waved at them.

One might think that Fitzgerald would give up his good fight after nearly a century, but yet he marches on. After all, he does live in Norwood, where the bronze war memorial in the town common reads, “The Price of Freedom is Eternal Vigilance.” Still; while such selfless public service would seem pointless and even tedious to some, Fitzgerald is physically incapable of considering himself.

If not for Fitzgerald, it is largely believed, the number of articles about father-son pride would dwindle at the Herald. Who else would tackle such otherwise ignored topics as he touched in “Son shares pride in his dad’s heroism” (November 14, 2007), “Sad death can’t diminish father’s pride in his son” (March 15, 2006), and the eternal “Dad’s pride in hero son started day he was born” (June 30, 2005)?

Furthermore, Fitzgerald was brave enough to chastise Senator John Kerry for butchering a military-related joke, and to wage his own personal war against the biggest threat facing troops today: gay people. Leave it to this champion of decorated warriors to remind us - with tear-jerkers like “Humble vet’s valor undiminished” (March 14, 2009) and “Genuine American hero” (September 8, 2008) - that few people beside him truly appreciate the dedication of those who fight for freedom. Ronnie Hayes - the World War II veteran whose story Fitzgerald shared in today’s paper - put it best:

“I don’t know what’s happened to America,” Hayes tells the Herald. “These kids we’ve sent to Iraq and Afghanistan are putting their lives on the line just as much as we did back at Okinawa. The difference is, we knew our country appreciated it.”

Well - I know at least one old swabby who shows appreciation every chance he gets. Because to Joe Fitzgerald, Veterans day comes more than once a year.

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