BOSTON (CBS/AP) — A Boston firefighter and retired Marine killed in a Back Bay fire last week was honored Thursday, a day after a colleague who died with him was laid to rest.
Photos: Michael Kennedy Funeral
Michael Kennedy, 33, was killed with 43-year-old Lt. Ed Walsh when they became trapped in a burning brownstone on Beacon Street March 26.
Thousands of firefighters from around the country lined Centre Street in Kennedy’s hometown of West Roxbury for the procession of his casket on Engine 33 to the Holy Name Church where the funeral mass was held.
Despite the size of the crowds, there was a respectful silence in the neighborhood until hundreds of bagpipers marched through as the firefighters saluted.
Kennedy was a Marine Sergeant, Iraq war veteran, and a fitness and Crossfit enthusiast. He was also very involved in the fire department’s burn foundation, which helps raise money for burn victims. He raised funds for the Wounded Warrior Project and was a first responder to the scene of the Boston Marathon bombings as well.
His casket was draped in the United States flag in honor of his service to his country.
For the last seven years, he volunteered as a Big Brother to 14-year-old Alex Beauzile.
Father John Unni, pastor of St. Cecilia’s Roman Catholic Church, which is near Kennedy’s Engine 33 Ladder 15, told the firefighter’s colleagues, family, and friends that “it’s not until a loss like this” that we look at “what’s important in life.”
“It’s relationship, it’s family and friends. It’s about love,” he said.
During his homily, Unni told a story of how he met Beauzille and how the teen wanted to know who had the stronger grip after shaking his hand, him or Kennedy.
“I think Mike Kennedy is in you, his spirit is in you,” Unni said. “You keep that strong grip, you look somebody in the eye and you keep going in the ways that he taught you over these years.”
Unni said Kennedy had a spirit “that raised people up.”
Related: Images From Procession, Service
Kennedy’s cousin, Davin Patrick Kennedy, later told stories about how the firefighter was nicknamed “dork” by his relatives, but it was a name he embraced.
Watch: Davin Patrick Kennedy remembers his cousin
The service ended with the presentation of the IAFF Medal Of Honor and the traditional ringing of the bell symbolizing the death of a firefighter who has “gone home.”
Kennedy’s father held the medal high and the audience responded with a standing ovation.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley, as he did at Walsh’s funeral, addressed the audience at the end of the mass.
He told everyone “we must learn to take care of one another” and that a firefighter’s death is a “reminder to all of us how much we need each other.”
Walsh was laid to rest in Watertown on Wednesday. He was married with three young children. He was buried alongside his father, also a firefighter.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens reports