Their bodies had gone unclaimed at the county morgue, these veterans from the Army, Air Force and Marines, who died homeless and forgotten after their service.
That was until students at University of Detroit Jesuit High School came along.
The teens, encouraged to become “men for others” at their all-boys Catholic prep school, donned white gloves and matching school ties and recently carried the caskets of three homeless vets at Great Lakes National Cemetery, outside Detroit.
“The men we honored today put their lives on the line for our country and now they deserve our dignity and service in return,” says senior Lenny Froehlich, among those at the Oct. 20 services. “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 idea sprung from informal student discussions about how the school could better serve the community, especially people who are marginalized.
“The pallbearer program at U of D Jesuit says a lot about the school and the young men who attend there,” said Terry Desmond, an alum and president of A.J. Desmond & Sons Funeral Homes. “Their service to the less fortunate honors the dignity of individuals who are mostly out-of-the-view of our society.”