Today’s youth is not as far gone or wayward as many believe them to be.
In fact, those who complain about kids these days not having their priorities in order should rethink their words, because a group of high school students in Michigan is volunteering to do something incredible for some of the most important members of our society: military veterans.
As reports suggest, around 50,000 military veterans are currently homeless in the country. Although the United States government and various organizations have structured programs to help them with the housing problem, homelessness remains one of the most prominent issues for these esteemed members of the society.
These men and women spend the good years of their lives serving the country, and spend the rest of their lives in nursing homes and shelters. More sadly, when they pass away, they are buried alone – forgotten and abandoned.
While people tend to forget about the dead, students from the University of Detroit Jesuit School volunteer to serve as pallbearers for these fallen vets – without any incentive other than honoring the dead.
“This was an opportunity to give something to somebody who finished their life on the fringe of society,” explained Tom Lennon, 17. “These veterans were men I have never met, but they helped make the country I live in safer and stronger. No matter who they were or what they did on earth, every person deserves a proper burial.”
The school’s student service team began this incredible funeral initiative earlier this month, with more than 50 students volunteering to act as pallbearers and pay their respects to the unidentified heroes.
“The students' service is so important because they realize how they can give back to the people of our community who have given so much to us,” said faculty member Todd Wilson. “They believe that, through being a pallbearer at the funerals of veterans, the homeless, the socially poor and others, they are ... offering a final tribute to a person's life journey.”
The next exercise will begin in November, and additional students have already signed up for the task.
Local funeral home A.J. Desmond & Sons in Troy, Michigan, makes sure that all veterans receive a proper burial at a nearby cemetery after authorities fail to locate their relatives for 90 days. Although the Dignity Memorial Network provides caskets for these veterans, without any family and friends to attend the ceremony, there are usually no pallbearers.
“The students' service is quite simply valuable to our firm because that is what we do,” said Desmond, commending the teenagers. “We serve our community by caring for and honoring the dead, regardless of financial circumstances.”
While Wilson is proud of the students who have stepped up to pay final tribute to these fallen heroes, a senior at the school claims he has learned something important by being a part of this program.
"I know that these people had loved ones and, whether or not these loved ones could be there to say goodbye, it does not change the fact that everyone deserves a proper burial," said Nick Benedetto, recalling a funeral ceremony of a homeless vet. “I realized that none of us present knew anything about the deceased. However, we were all there to pay them respect for serving our country. After that, I felt a sense of peace and was thankful that I was able to be a part of the services.”