Sadly many veterans are forgotten about having served their country valiantly and often sacrificing a multitude of things in the process, as they grow old and are left alone.
John T. Fitzmaurice, himself a Vietnam veteran of the U.S. army, was homeless when he passed away aged 68. He didn’t have many friends or family.
In fact, there wasn’t even anyone to claim his body. Few people would be present at his funeral until a group of high school students found out about it.
Once a group of high school students heard about it, they decided the homeless veteran should receive the honor he at least deserved.
Therefore the teenagers from Catholic Memorial High School in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, decided to intervene. They attended Fitzmaurice’s funeral and insisted on carrying his casket as well.
Fitzmaurice was given a full Mass in a nearby chapel and buried at Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Winchendon.
The boys from Catholic Memorial High School stood in for the vet’s family, performing their duties proudly.
Marcus Miller, a school spokesman said, ”They were moved by the honor of standing in for this man who had no family. It was a lesson in honoring every person’s humanity.”
Fitzmaurice was most certainly honoured. A group of juniors and seniors served as his pallbearers, as plenty of others were also in attendance to pay their respects.
The group of boys served as family members for U.S. Army veteran who passed away at just 68 years old. Spokesperson Marcus Miller believes around 40 people gathered at the church to bid Fitzmaurice farewell.
“This is the first time we’ve done this,” Miller added, ”but it won’t be the last.”
Apparently, the all-boys private school has begun working with Lazarus Ministry and the Lawler & Crosby Funeral Home in the Boston suburb of West Roxbury.
The partnership is designed to provide funerals for the homeless, the poor and those who die alone with no family.
“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”, Marcus Miller said.
The gesture was extremely compassionate which also allowed them to mature in a very unique way. 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 he opened up about the experience: “For our students and the Catholic Memorial community to be his family today was a privilege,” he said. “Our students know that by the grace of God, we have the life that we have.”
As a result of their actions these roles models have been praised by virtually all who have read their story around the world.
For more on the funeral, watch the video below:
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