Boston Fire Lieutenant Edward Walsh was remembered as a devoted father, husband and firefighter at his funeral in Watertown Wednesday.
Thousands gathered to say goodbye one week after he was killed in a Beacon Street brownstone blaze. Hundreds of bagpipers led the procession to St. Patrick Church, as thousands of firefighters stood shoulder-to-shoulder along the street.
Andrew Ruggles, a firefighter in St. Johnsbury, Vt. got up at 3 a.m. to drive down and attend the funeral with Captain Will Rivers.
“I got here this morning to support my brothers and show respect," he said. “It’s a tradition, it’s not my first. I’ve been to quite a few, so, it’s just what we do. We take care of each other. They’re sad. None of them get any easier.”
Firefighters from all over the country saluted as Walsh’s casket was brought to the church on a fire truck from Boston's Engine 33. He had served the Boston Fire Department for more than nine years.
It was a tearful scene as Walsh’s wife of 10 years, Kristen, walked into the church with their three young children - Dillon, Morgan, and Griffin - all under the age of 10.
Inside, Walsh’s sister Kathy Malone gave a eulogy.
“He was destined to do great things, and he did. So, Eddie, just as you have always had my back, Kristen's back, and all of your friends' and family's backs, I make a commitment to stand up and follow in your footsteps and try to be even half the person you were,” she said of her brother.
Harold Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Firefighters, spoke of Walsh’s courage last week at the scene of the fire in the Beacon Street apartment building.
“True to the leader he was, he was one of the first in, straight into that basement with firefighter Michael Kennedy. Right into the heart of that inferno. Their actions gave other crews the time they needed to rescue a number of residents from the upper floors," Schaitberger said. "But the winds whipped off the Charles, gusting up to 50 miles an hour, pushed the flames and heat to unimaginable levels.”
The other Boston Firefighters in attendance bowed their heads. It was a solemn service, and afterward Walsh was buried next to his father, a Watertown firefighter. Many of those in the crowd planned to drive to West Roxbury for the wake of the other firefighter who died, Michael Kennedy.
Watch some of the sights and sounds from today’s funeral procession and mass that drew thousands of mourners from across the country: