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Thousands Honor Fallen Boston Firefighter Michael Kennedy

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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.

Boston firefighter Michael Kennedy. (Facebook photo)

Boston firefighter Michael Kennedy. (Facebook photo)

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.

Video: Final Salute To Michael Kennedy

Despite the size of the crowds, there was a respectful silence in the neighborhood until hundreds of bagpipers marched through as the firefighters saluted.

An aerial view of the procession in West Roxbury. (WBZ-TV)

An aerial view of the procession in West Roxbury. (WBZ-TV)

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.”

The presentation of the gifts from Michael Kennedy's "little brother" Alex Beauzile (left). (WBZ-TV)

The presentation of the gifts from Michael Kennedy’s “little brother” Alex Beauzile (left). (WBZ-TV)

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.

There was a standing ovation as Kennedy’s family received the IAFF Medal of Honor. (WBZ-TV)

There was a standing ovation as Kennedy’s family received the IAFF Medal of Honor. (WBZ-TV)

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.”

The helmet of fallen Boston firefighter Michael Kennedy. (WBZ-TV)

The helmet of fallen Boston firefighter Michael Kennedy. (WBZ-TV)

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

There is still no official word yet on what caused the fatal fire.

A fund has been set up to help the firefighters’ families.

WBZ-TV’s Sera Congi reports

Donations may be made at the Boston Firefighter’s Credit Union website, www.bosfirecu.com, or by mailing checks to the fund care of the Boston Firefighter’s Credit Union, 60 Hallet St., Boston MA 02124.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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