Students Honor Homeless Veteran With Final Farewell After Learning He Had No Friends or Family

The high school students served as pallbearers for the U.S. Army veteran who had no loved ones to mourn him when he died.

A group of high school students honored a homeless veteran they had never met by carrying his casket and attending his funeral.

The teenagers from Catholic Memorial High School in Massachusetts performed their duties with pride and dignity, serving as family members for U.S. Army veteran John T. Fitzmaurice, who died without friends or loved ones.

"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," school spokesman Marcus Miller told Thursday.

The all-boys private school has begun working with Lazarus Ministry and the Lawler & Crosby Funeral Home in the Boston suburb of West Roxbury. Together, the partnership is designed to provide funerals for the homeless, the poor and those who die alone with no family.

"This is the first time we've done this," Miller said.

But there was no shortage of young volunteers to pay tribute to a man who served his country. A group of juniors and seniors served as pallbearers while a sophomore theology class attended the funeral.

There were about 40 people at the service, Miller said.

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

It also served as an initiation to the stark realities of life.

"I think a lot of them had never been to a funeral at all," Miller said. "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."