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FFs Take Time To Remember Those Who Have Fallen

FFs Take Time To Remember Those Who Have Fallen

Michelle Sanders and her daughter Madison, 9, watched as firefighters marched to Forest Hills Cemetery yesterday.

Boston Globe via YellowBrix

June 14, 2010

BOSTON – Firefighters from across Boston stood two abreast in salute yesterday morning, paying tribute to fallen colleagues buried in Forest Hills Cemetery in Jamaica Plain.

Garbed in decorated navy dress uniforms, the firefighters removed their caps to place flowers on the Fireman’s Lot, a burial ground established in 1828 and the resting place for 135 firefighters, 13 of whom died in the line of duty. Wives and children stood in silence along the trail, and firefighters in kilts, carrying bagpipes and drums, lined up single file.

“They are remembered for their valiant acts of bravery or for their work as ordinary firefighters,’’ Department Chief Ronald W. Keating told the gathering at yesterday’s 117th annual firefighter’s memorial services. “We will continue to celebrate their lives in our memories.’’

Many of those attending the ceremony were from families of firefighters.

Deputy Chief John Hasson grew up with a father, three uncles, and three cousins who were firefighters. Two of his brothers are now police officers.

“It’s a family of public service; it’s what I knew growing up as the son of a firefighter,’’ Hasson said. “Today we’re not only honoring people who passed away but people who currently work here.’’

After remarks by the Fire Department’s Jewish chaplain, Rabbi Yitzhak Aharon Korff, Hyde Park resident Eileen Honen, 54, said she felt her chest tighten with emotion as a four-member a cappella group sang “Amazing Grace.’’

Honen watched her husband, Bill, stand with his hands clasped behind his back as he and his colleagues listened to a performance of taps. He has been with the Fire Department for 16 years and is now working at the fire marshal’s office after being injured while on duty.

“I come here every year to show my support, to honor those who passed,’’ she said. “I feel very proud to be here.’’

Paul O’Brien, 84, remembered nine co-workers who were killed in the Hotel Vendome fire of 1972 while fighting one of the deadliest blazes in the Boston Fire Department’s history. O’Brien, who retired from South End Engine 22 in 1991 after 32 years, was not working that afternoon.

“I’m here to honor the ones who have gone, to pay my respects,’’ he said.

Attending the annual memorial service for the first time, Jamie St. Cyr, 30, of Norwood acknowledged the danger of her boyfriend’s profession.

Michael Mitchell, 29, who played drums in yesterday’s brigade, has been working in the department for five years, St. Cyr said. His father is a captain, and his brother a lieutenant.

“I worry all the time, every time they go to work,’’ she said.