High school students serve as pall bearers for veteran who had no one

When this Vietnam veteran passed away, people were invited to pay their respects and honor him for his service. Attendees sat in the pews and waited for the funeral to begin. Then, when church doors opened, and when they saw who was there, their jaws hit the floor.


It’s a real tragedy to see our veterans being forgotten, with little to none material or community support. There are many cases where the veterans, who fought for the country, were totally forgotten by the nation they served for.

One such example was John T. Fitzmaurice. This veteran who fought for the US Army in the Vietnam War died at the age of 68. What’s even more tragic is that he died as a homeless man!

John did not have much friends or family in his life. The war and the subsequent life left him alone and at the end of his journey a homeless person. There was no one even to claim his body!

John’s funeral was planned to be small one, with no more than ten people present at the funeral itself.

However, a group of high school students learnt about John’s fate and did something very unforgettable.

The students were obviously touched by John’s tragic fate. They gathered up and decided that the veteran must have a funeral that he deserves. He has to be honoured as a fighter for the nation’s well-being.

The adolescents that organized this event were students at the Catholic Memorial High School in West Roxbury, Massachusetts.

These students showed the world how to respect our old veterans. Besides organizing the funeral itself, they even carried the casket by themselves.

John’s final resting place was at the Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Winchendon. He was buried with full Mass in the local church.

Since the old veteran did not have any family members, the boys stood as his family. They proudly finished the task.

Marcus Miller, a school spokesman, for Inside Edition 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.”

John was sent to his grave with all respects thanks to these students.

The boys were not the only people who attended the funeral. Besides them, there were groups of juniors and seniors who gave their respect to the poor man.

The boys were proud to gave everything they could just to honour the veteran. Knowing that there was no one that cared for the veteran, it was their honour to say the last goodbye to the veteran.

Some 40 people attended the Mass in the chapel and John’s funeral.

“This is the first time we’ve done this,” Miller added, ”but it won’t be the last.”

This was a reason for developing a joint project between the school and Lazarus Ministry and the Lawler & Crosby Funeral Home in the Boston suburb of West Roxbury.

The goal of the project was to organize funerals for homeless and poor people and people who were left totally alone in this world.

“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.

This experience of the boys is very unique. Not many in our country can talk about similar actions. Hopefully this will help them mature into serious and responsible adults.

The president of the Memorial High School had the honour of draping the flag across John’s coffin.

For the Boston Herald, the president says:

“For our students and the Catholic Memorial community to be his family today was a privilege. Our students know that by the grace of God, we have the life that we have.”

This story has reached thousands of people out there. They showed the world how to respect people and taught us a lesson that we have no rights to forget the people who fought for this country.

The details of the funeral can be seen in this video.

These boys are real heroes. Thanks to them the veteran got the funeral that he deserved. At the end it turned out that he wasn’t completely forgotten by the society, all thanks to these boys and their efforts. 

Share this article if you believe all veterans of the U.S. army should be celebrated like the heroes they really are.