Thursday, April 3, 2014

RIP - Fire Fighter Michael Kennedy

OWe said a final farewell today to Firefighter Michael R. Kennedy, who died with Fire Lieutenant Edward J. Walsh Jr. in a nine-alarm blaze in the Back Bay.  An American flag strung between Ladder 24 and Ladder 26 billowed over Centre Street in West Roxbury. The sidewalks and rooftops were filled with firefighters, all in crisp uniforms and straight lines.  Honor guards stood at rigid attention outside Holy Name Church as scores of bagpipes skirled. First came Mike's truck, Ladder 15, draped in flowers, moving at deliberate speed. Then its partner, Engine 33, carrying his casket wrapped in an American flag, perched atop a gleaming bier inlaid with the department’s Maltese cross. His turnout coat hung from the rear of the truck.

Mike the Marine might have relished the display. He loved the discipline, tradition, and sense of brotherhood that defined the two callings of his adult life.

His mother used to say, “Michael, you’re either going to prison, or the White House,” said the Rev. John Unni.  Unni, a Back Bay parish priest asked everyone to try to tap into a spiritual reserve “that allows us to be with each other in this way that gives us the strength, that heals us and comforts us.”

“Michael Kennedy made the world a safer place, a more decent place, and — as his friends have said to us — a more fun place,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “The loss of such a courageous, vibrant man leaves a void in our communities that is impossible to fill.”

Richard Paris, president of Boston Fire Fighters Local 718, said he could not make sense of the tragedy that had killed two men of the finest character. But he could imagine Kennedy, like Walsh, looking over them all. “You can bet when Mike arrived at the gates of heaven, St. Florian” — patron saint of firefighters — “met him there and said, ‘Well done, Michael, my faithful friend, well done,’ ” Paris said, his voice quavering as he began to address Kennedy directly. “Michael, God bless you, brother. Rest in peace. Please keep us all safe.” 

As the 2-hour service closed, Peter Starkey a firefighter from the Boylston St Station approached a gleaming bell and intoned four double rings, symbolizing loss in the line of duty.

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley delivered the final prayer.

“A firefighter’s death is a reminder to all of us how much we need each other,” O’Malley said. “There can be no real community, there cannot be human existence, without sacrifice, courage, love.”


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