Students at the University of Detroit Jesuit School are giving back to their community in a remarkable way: they’re acting as pallbearers for homeless veterans. The new initiative is part of the school’s volunteer program. So far, 50 students have been trained and Todd Wilson, the faculty member in charge, told TODAY that even more have signed up for the next training session, which starts this month.
“[The students] 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,” Wilson said in the interview.
While local funeral homes and the county medical examiner try to ensure every Detroit veteran gets a proper burial, they can’t always find friends or family members to act as pallbearers. Now, with the help of the Dignity Memorial Network, who provide caskets, and these teenage volunteers, the community’s veterans are respectfully put to rest.
The service also has a profound effect on the teens participating. Tom Lennon, a senior at the school, told TODAY that being a pallbearer gave him an opportunity to “give something to somebody who finished their life on the fringe of society.”
“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.”
Nick Benedetto, another senior who volunteered, said he’d reflected a lot on the experience.
“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.”