Students Show Their Respect To Homeless Veteran

Students from Catholic Memorial All-Boys High School, in Massachusetts, have been praised after they volunteered to carry the casket of a recently passed away and formerly homeless veteran of the Vietnam War. The selfless teenagers also stayed to attend the veteran’s funeral, honoring his service and paying their respects to his achievements.

The veteran in question, former member of the U.S. Army John T. Fitzmaurice, passed away quietly and without fanfare. Tragically, Mr. Fitzmaurice had no friends or family members to carry his casket or attend his funeral when he died.

However, Mr. Fitzmaurice’s procession was upheld with honor and dignity by Catholic Memorial High School students. A spokesperson for the school, Marcus Miller, spoke to Inside Edition about the reaction from the student body when they learnt Mr. Fitzmaurice had died and they would carry his casket. "They were moved by the honor of standing in for this man who had no family,” said Mr. Miller. “It was a lesson in honoring every person's humanity.”

"This is the first time we've done this," added Mr Miller, emphasizing how important it was to the school that the local veteran received a proper burial and funeral. During the interview, Mr. Miller also took the opportunity to highlight the positive impact students can have on the less fortunate members of the local community.

"The response from our community was so positive and our boys had such a wonderful experience," declared Mr. Miller. “Our students are charged with the marginalized and those who cannot speak.”

The students involved with Mr. Fitzmaurice’s funeral worked in conjunction with the school administration, Lazarus Ministry and West Roxbury’s Lawler & Crosby Funeral Home. Each organization has agreed to continue their current partnership, providing low-cost or no-cost funerals for people who are homeless, without family or struggling financially.

Despite his lack of friends or family, Mr. Fitzmaurice’s funeral was attended by more than 40 students and members of the local community. In addition to the student pallbearers, there was also a group of Memorial High students from the school’s sophomore theology class.

Unsurprisingly the experience has touched each and every student, challenging their beliefs and giving them a new respect for their home, their friends and their family.

"I think a lot of them had never been to a funeral at all," said Mr. Miller. "This is their first experience of being this close to a casket, and feeling the weight of this person, and realizing he was a human being like the rest of us and he deserved companionship, even in death."

Peter Folan, the president of Memorial High School, was given the great honor of draping the flag across Mr. Fitzmaurice’s coffin. In an interview with the Boston Herald, the president opened up about the experience. “For our students and the Catholic Memorial community to be his family today was a privilege,” said Mr. Folan. “Our students know that by the grace of God, we have the life that we have.”

Source: Inside Edition, Boston Herald
Photo: YouTube

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