Group of high school students serve as pallbearers for homeless veterans

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DETROIT — A group of students from Detroit wanted to give some veterans the funerals they deserved: ones with honor and dignity.

Students from the University of Detroit Jesuit High School recently served as pallbearers for the funerals of homeless veterans who were “unclaimed” and did not have loved ones at the ceremonies.

The idea began after “informal student discussions about ways the school’s student service team could better serve the community,” according to a school release.

The students looked to assist “especially the marginalized and those persons forgotten by our society.”

The students first went to St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, which runs a similar program. There they gathered information and trained, the school said in the statement. The students later received instruction from a Michigan funeral company, A.J. Desmond & Sons Funeral Directors.

The students first served as pallbearers on Oct., 20, 2015, for the funerals of three unclaimed veterans at the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly, Michigan, the school said.  A.J. Desmond & Sons Funeral Directors conducted the three veterans’ funerals.

“The men we honored today put their lives on the line for our country and now they deserve our dignity and service in return,” said  senior Leonard Froehlich, according to the release. “There is no better way to pay our respects than by being pallbearers. We honor these service members by being with them in their last moments on earth, and that in itself is a privilege.”

The school described the proceedings as follows:

Typically, before departing for a funeral, the student pallbearers gather to pray for the deceased. They travel by student carpool, take part in funeral procession, carry the casket to the grave and share in the prayers of committal.  After returning to school, students reflect prayerfully on their experience.

“Preserving the dignity of the human soul is important to all human beings, regardless of a person’s situation at death,” school president Karl J. Kiser said in the release.

To read the school’s full release, go here.

Click here to visit their official Facebook page.

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