By Brittany Gervais
Fallen Boston firefighter Michael Kennedy was honored by his family, friends, and companions Thursday morning during a funeral service in West Roxbury. Kennedy was one of the two fallen heroes who died battling a 9-alarm fire in the city’s Back Bay area last week.
Thousands of Bostonians and firefighters surrounded the church as Kennedy’s casket was carried down Centre Street. An American flag draped the coffin in honor of Kennedy’s time spent as a US Marine.
Kennedy lived in Hyde Park and was an Iraq war veteran. He was one of the first responders in last year’s Boston Marathon bombings, and planned on running in this year’s race with his girlfriend Sarah Wessmann. Kennedy had wanted to propose to her on May 11.
The 33-year old’s helmet was carried by his friend, Firefighter Paul McIrney, as he walked in front of Engine 33. Kennedy’s fellow firefighters followed in-line next to the engine, placing their hands on the vehicle that carried his boots and uniform.
The crowded street was somber and silent as Kennedy’s remains were carried into the church. The US Marine Corps hymn, “The Halls of Montezuma” was played by bagpipers who stood alongside the proceedings.
Residents who lived outside the Holy Name Church came out of their houses to pay their respects. They watched the march of hundreds of firefighters with admiration and awe.
Roxbury resident John Ryan lives in the house across the street from the funeral. While he didn’t know Kennedy personally, he stayed home Thursday morning to honor the two fallen firefighters.
“It’s a sad day, but it’s a nice honor for a couple of fallen heroes,” Ryan said.
Many friends and family members of Boston firefighter Lieutenant Ed Walsh were also at Kennedy’s funeral. The 43-year old died alongside Kennedy battling the blaze last Wednesday afternoon.
Tracy Gagnon is a first grade teacher at Holy Name School in West Roxbury. She taught Walsh’s 8-year old son Dillion Walsh last year, and attended the firefighter’s funeral yesterday.
“He was a sweet boy, and they were a great family,” Gagnon said.
She said both Walsh and Kennedy were known in the community as heroes.
“Beyond heroes. They’re up there, they’re on a pedestal,” Gagnon said. “We admire them for their courage and their bravery more than anything.”
Kennedy will be laid to rest with military honors at the Fireman’s Lot in the Forest Hills Cemetery in Jamaica Plain.