Firefighter Michael R. Kennedy’s casket was carried atop Engine 33 to Holy Name Church in West Roxbury Thursday morning where his funeral is taking place.
The service drew thousands firefighters from across the United States to the neighborhood. They lined the street and saluted as Kennedy’s casket was driven toward the church. It followed behind Ladder 15, the truck he typically worked on.
In his homily, the Rev. John Unni cited descriptions that others had told him of Kennedy.
“He was always wanting to be there to help someone, do the right thing. He was someone who lived for others, always determined to put a smile on the faces of those around him,” Unni said.
Kennedy, 33, was killed along with Boston Fire Lt. Edward Walsh, 43, on March 26 while fighting a fire in a four-story apartment house in Boston’s historic Back Bay neighborhood.
Mayor Marty Walsh said Kennedy ran toward danger and embraced life.
“Michael Kennedy made the world a safer place, a more decent place and, as a his friends have said to us, a more fun place. He went above and beyond the call of duty,” Walsh said. “Our duty is to preserve his memory and share his spirit. We must teach young people his values – they are the values of a great American.”
Kennedy, a Marine veteran, is also being saluted with military honors. An American flag covered his casket as it was carried into the church and a group of Marines standing on a staircase saluted as it passed them.
Kennedy’s cousin, Davin Kennedy, was emotional and fought back tears as he recalled various stories about Kennedy.
“He was a larger-than-life character,” Davin Kennedy said. “He never saw a challenge he wouldn’t accept.”
International Association of Fire Fighters President Harold Schaitberger presented Kennedy’s father, Paul, with the Medal of Honor.
“He was clearly put on this Earth as a guardian, a guardian of others,” Schaitberger said of Kennedy.
In a moving moment, Kennedy’s proud father then held up the medal for everyone in the church to see. Those inside the church stood and cheered as Paul Kennedy then walked over to his son’s casket and placed the medal on top of it.
Walsh was laid to restWednesdayfollowing a funeral Mass at St. Patrick’s Church in Watertown. Those services drew firefighters from across the nation, with some from New York, Chicago and Miami joining the procession.
Today’s ceremony will conclude with the International Association of Firefighters Bell Ceremony, which officials said is meant to “reflect honor and respect on the brave souls that have served and selflessly given their lives for the good of their fellow man.”
Speakers will include Mayor Marty Walsh, Boston Fire Fighters Local 718 President Rich Paris and Davin Patrick Kennedy, Michael Kennedy’s cousin.