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Sister wants honors for brother who died in Korea

Sunday, May 26, 2002

ORLAND PARK, Ill. -- The pictures of Mike Fitzpatrick are the pictures of a younger America at war.

With an army cap perched on his head at an angle, he smiles out of the 1950s with a devilish charm. He was about to head to Korea.

Fitzpatrick was killed just months after the picture was taken, in September 1951. Awarded a posthumous Purple Heart for being killed in action as a medic, he was the model of a drafted serviceman who served his country proudly.

But he had no military honors at his funeral. No honor guard. No uniformed pallbearers.

That's because Fitzpatrick, 23 at the time of his death, had only been in the United States for three years, moving from Ireland. He was not a citizen.

His sister, Mary Doody, 77, is trying to change that.

Doody has lived in Chicago, Oak Lawn and now Orland Park for 55 years, but still speaks with an Irish lilt.

"He wanted to be a citizen," Doody said. "Being a citizen was one of the greatest things that could happen to someone."

So Doody and her son, Chicago attorney Tim Doody, are pressing congressmen to pass the Posthumous Citizen Restoration Act of 2001. That law would award citizenship to non-citizens who died while serving in the U.S. military.

"That would put an end to it," Mary Doody said. "That would be enough."

A full military funeral includes an honor guard for the coffin, a bugler and a 21-gun salute from a rifle squad.


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