Award Ceremony Spotlights Worcester

It was fitting and proper that the 2009 Massachusetts Firefighter of the Year Award Ceremony was moved to Worcester from Boston this year as a way to acknowledge the 10th anniversary of the loss of the Worcester Six.

Coan, who annually has an award he presents, made the award to Kennedy, whom he called a true friend of the fire service. Kennedy’s wife, Vicki accepted the award, a framed copy of the poem “May They Not Be Forgotten,” by James McNulty, FDNY retired.

In accepting the award, Kennedy said her late husband, who died in August, “would have been so honored and humbled” to be recognized.

“Even if he hadn’t received this award, he would have been here today,” she said. “That’s why I am here today. He had such admiration and respect for the extraordinary, heroic work the firefighters do.”

Kennedy focused a large portion of her speech on the Worcester Six, praising them for their sacrifices.

“How hard it is to believe that 10 years has passed since six of your brothers died on a cold night here in Worcester,” Kennedy  said. “That provided such indelible witness to bravery in tragedy. We’ve heard their names and I’ll say them again; Paul Brotherton, Timothy Jackson, Jeremiah Lucey,  James Lyons, Joseph Mcguirk and Thomas Spencer. Their names are a… legion of honor. They were husbands and sons, fathers and brothers and they were friends to each other and so many they left behind.”

Kennedy shared a letter that her husband had read at the Dec. 11, 1999, memorial service. It was a letter his father had written to a friend who lost a son.

“ I remembered how Ted’s voice cracked as he softly found his faith as these words echoed,” Kennedy said and read the letter. “’When one of your loved ones goes out of your life, you think of what he might have done with a few more years, and you wonder what you are going to do with the rest of yours.
Then,  one day because there’s a world to be lived in you find yourself part of it, trying to accomplish something. Something he did not have enough time to and perhaps that is the reason for it all. I hope so,’ his father wrote.”

“That was Ted’s hope a decade ago and that is my hope today,” Kennedy said. “To the families of the brave firefighters we lost 10 years ago, again, we share your sorrow and also your pride. And, although we face a world without them, this world is immeasurably ennobled by their service. They gave so much. Ten years later, we continue to look ahead as they would wish us to and we see that it is our own good works that will keep them near.”