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Vigil remembers fallen firefighters


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WEST ROXBURY -- Holy Name Parish in West Roxbury held a vigil of remembrance, March 28, for the two firefighters killed in the line of duty last week.

Lt. Edward Walsh, 43, and Firefighter Michael Kennedy, 33, died after being trapped in the basement of a four-story building, March 26, when a nine-alarm fire driven by heavy wind ripped through a Beacon Street brownstone building in Boston's Back Bay.

Vigil-goers from the local neighborhood and around the city, including Mayor Martin J. Walsh and local elected officials, crowded into the church to the sound of a trumpet played from behind the altar.

On the altar, a firefighter's hat rested on a stand with candles.

"It's like when you drop a pebble in a pond and it all goes out from there," said Noreen Giorgio, a 17-year resident of the neighborhood around the church, who arrived early.

The prayer service honored the memory of the fallen firefighters and focused on the self-sacrifice of the fallen -- centered on the message of Jesus Christ in the Gospel of John that there is no greater love than "to lay down one's life for one's friends."

"We have reason to hope. Their courage increases our strength. Their strength increases our hope," said one of the prayer leaders, as vigil leaders lit candles to signify grief, courage, memory, love, and hope.

Msgr. George F. Carlson said as people go through life they create memories, which others can tell as stories to honor the lives of the fallen.

"We tell their story today. We tell their story tomorrow. We tell their story next month," he said.

He said the memories provide something to hold on to, even as people pass away.

"In life's journey we make memories, and we always have them," he said.

He encouraged the vigil-goers to share their memories going forward, and to find comfort in scripture and prayer, at the vigil and in days ahead.

Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson, who represents Roxbury, parts of the South End, Dorchester and Fenway neighborhoods, spoke with The Pilot after the vigil.

"We truly all thank them, and thank their families for this ultimate sacrifice, and the people who are going to continue to go to work and do this every single day. We honor them today," he said.

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