WATERTOWN, Mass. (AP) — Thousands of firefighters from across the nation gathered Wednesday to help lay to rest a colleague who died after becoming trapped in the basement of a burning Boston brownstone last week.
Saluting men and women in blue uniforms lined the streets of suburban Watertown as bagpipers in Scottish kilts played in honor of Lt. Edward Walsh, who was married and had three young children.
“We take care of our own,” said Lee Forshner, a firefighter from Palm Beach County, Florida, who took several flights to attend Walsh’s funeral. “And that extends across state borders.”
First responders from Washington state, Ohio, New York and even Canada paid their respects to Walsh at St. Patrick’s Church.
Walsh, 43, was killed alongside firefighter Michael Kennedy, 33, during an apartment fire in the Back Bay neighborhood. The fire, fanned by heavy winds, also injured 13 people. Kennedy’s funeral is scheduled for Thursday in West Roxbury.
Walsh’s coffin, on top of a fire truck draped in flowers, was led to the funeral by a caravan of police vehicles. His jacket hung from one of the ladders. The men from his firehouse, their heads lowered, ceremoniously lifted his casket as the sound of drums and bagpipes filled the air.
Inside the church, a heartfelt tribute was read by Walsh’s older sister, Kathy Malone, who praised him for his leadership, kindness and love for his friends and family.
“He was destined to do great things,” she said, fighting back tears. “And that’s what he did. He lived more in 43 years than many of us could do in 80.”
Although Walsh saved many lives while on duty, to his family he was “a hero every day,” said Mayor Martin Walsh, who’s not related to the firefighter.
Gov. Deval Patrick, state Attorney General Martha Coakley and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren also attended.
As the ceremony came to a close, a bell rang inside the church to signify the last alarm Walsh would hear before being laid to rest.
Walsh was to be buried in Watertown alongside his father, who also was a firefighter.