There’s something to be said for Archie Fagan.

If you were ever in the ShopRite in Flemington on 202 you may have come across him. At 93 years old the WWII veteran was more than just an employee. He was like a community ambassador. He would direct you to anything in the store you couldn’t find. He would make p.a. announcements about specials. He would greet you with the most positive attitude you could imagine.

He did more than that. He and his fellow veterans won a war and preserved freedom for all of us. He was there to help liberate a concentration camp. He spoke at local schools to students born long after the horrors he saw. My son Jack heard his words at JP Case middle school and was so moved by them he developed a deeper love of American history. He sought out Archie one day at ShopRite to shake his hand and say thank you. I knew he was thanking him not only for his speech at the school but for the very freedom he enjoys.

There’s something to be said for a guy like Archie.

He thought he would work at ShopRite until he died. But the pandemic forced his retirement. At 93 years old and being vulnerable to this ravaging virus he knew it was time to hang up the white apron. He wasn’t sure how he would get by financially. Operation Jersey Cares, a group that helps veterans, is making sure he’ll be okay. They raised $20,000 for him and arranged a lawyer to work pro bono to help him get the benefits he deserves. There’s a great story on this on NJ.com.

I’m sad to see him go. Whenever I was in that store I would keep an eye out for him. Actually you would hear Archie before you would see him with that distinctive voice of his. Once I talked with Archie about all that he had done in the war, all that he had seen. He was a humble man. When he spoke to my son who called him a hero, Archie said war is a terrible thing and he was not a hero. He was a survivor.

He was both.

There’s something to be said for Archie Fagan.

“Thank you.”

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. Any opinions expressed are Jeff Deminski's own.