It’s a tragic truth that so many veterans are forgotten as they grow old, left alone after serving their country valiantly and often sacrificing a multitude of things in the process.
John T. Fitzmaurice, himself a Vietnam veteran of the U.S. army, was homeless when he passed away aged 68.
He didn’t have much in the way of friends or family, and there was no one left to mourn his death. In fact, there wasn’t even anyone to claim his body.
As a result, it was expected that few people would be present at his funeral.
That was until a group of high school students found out about it…
However, when a group of high school students found out about it, they decided the homeless veteran should receive the honor he deserved.
Teenagers from Catholic Memorial High School in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, decided they had to intervene.
Not only did they take it upon themselves to attend Fitzmaurice’s funeral, but they carried his casket as well.
Fitzmaurice was buried at Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Winchendon, but not before being given a full Mass in a nearby chapel.
The boys from Catholic Memorial High School stood in for the vet’s family, performing their duties proudly.
”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.”
And honored Fitzmaurice most certainly was.
A group of juniors and seniors served as his pallbearers, but there were plenty of others in attendance to pay their respects.
The group of boys performed their duties with pride and dignity, serving as family members for U.S. Army veteran who passed away at just 68 years old and seemingly had none.
In total, 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, Inside Edition explained.
Together, 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.
Not only was the gesture an extremely compassionate thing to do with regards to the students, but hopefully it 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 with the Boston Herald, 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, they’ve rightly been praised by virtually all who have read their story, and can be considered role models for other youngsters around the world.
For more on the funeral, watch the video below:
Respect for our vets, and indeed for all life on earth, is of paramount importance within society, and it’s so great to see these students honoring a man who had no one else.
I’m so thankful John Fitzmaurice got the send off he truly deserved. We thank him from the bottom of our hearts for his service!
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