It’s likely that all of the thousands of firefighters who attended yesterday’s funeral for fallen brother Lt. Edward Walsh of Boston will remember one thing especially — and that’s the image of Walsh’s small children.
“So young,” said Salem firefighter Tom Brophy. He saw their faces, “just looking at you, staring at you.”
“We gave the honors as they passed,” said Marblehead firefighter Doug Knowles. “A salute.” As they did, there was only the hush of the vehicles moving slowly. “And I could hear guys breaking down around me.”
For Brophy, the son of a retired deputy chief, this had a special meaning. He remembered his own feelings and fears when his father was injured on the job.
“They have a big road ahead of them,” he said. But it mattered, too, that there were so many to honor their father’s sacrifice. “I think it will make it a little easier to know we have their back.”
Walsh and fellow firefighter Michael Kennedy were killed in a Back Bay basement blaze on March 26. Kennedy’s funeral is scheduled for today. The services have attracted firefighters from all over the country and, even, the world. Peabody fire Capt. Ted Quinn noted seeing representatives from Germany, England and Canada.
“It’s a brotherhood,” he said. “Somebody’s gone, and we’re just sending them off ... showing our respect,”
The Salem contingent of about 50 watched with amazement as state and Boston police parted traffic for them all along the way from Vinnin Square to Boston. They stood at attention in Class A uniforms outside St. Patrick’s Church in Watertown. Through loudspeakers, they heard Walsh’s sister Kathy Malone describe her brother, telling the congregation, “He was destined to do great things, and he did.”
“You listened to her, you felt you knew him personally,” said Salem firefighter Ray Krajeski. “She was great.”