Bostonians, Others Honor Fallen Jake

April 04--Firefighter Michael R. Kennedy, whose exemplary life was lost in a Back Bay inferno, made his final run on Engine 33 yesterday, as it carried his American flag-draped casket through streets packed with the heartbroken -- thousands of men, women and children who stood for hours stilled in silent reverence.

"A firefighter's death is a reminder to all of us how much we need each other," Cardinal Sean O'Malley said during the funeral at Holy Name Church in West Roxbury. Lt. Edward J. Walsh Jr., who died with Kennedy, was buried Wednesday in his native Watertown.

"We must teach our young people his values. They are the values of a great American," said Mayor Martin J. Walsh of the young bachelor's life of service, which included extensive charity work with Big Brothers and the Burn Foundation.

Kennedy's death, Walsh said, "leaves a void in our community that is impossible to fill. Michael Kennedy made the world a safe place, a more decent place, and as his friends have said to us, a more fun place."

"Do better," is all the Marine combat veteran of Iraq ever expected of others, the Rev. John Unni of St. Cecilia Parish, a neighbor of Kennedy's Boylston Street firehouse, said during his homily.

David Patrick Kennedy, a cousin, fought through his own emotions to speak for his family about their beloved Mike, an athlete, biker and skydiver who embraced his nicknames -- "Dork" and "Wild Man."

"The entire city of Boston has shown Michael's family and friends just what he means to the city. We can all agree that no matter how long I was to stand up here and talk to all of you, I would never fully capture the larger-than-life character he was."

For a second consecutive day, firefighters from as far away as Ireland and Australia stepped up to honor their brothers in Boston who were killed in the March 26 nine-alarm inferno in a Beacon Street brownstone in the Back Bay.

Both men posthumously received the International Association of Fire Fighters Medal of Honor, which IAFF President Harold Schaitberger presented during their respective Masses to Walsh's widow, Kristen, and Kennedy's father, Paul.

"His actions spoke louder than any words. It was as simple as that," said Richard Paris, president of Boston Fire Fighters Local 718, before turning to Kennedy's remains at the altar and requesting of the fallen hero as he choked back tears, "Please keep us all safe."

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