The second Sunday of June marks the day when members of the Boston Fire Department (BFD) and others gather at the Firemen’s Memorial at Forest Hill Cemetery to pay tribute to those firefighters who have died.
This year’s event on June 8 will be especially poignant given the recent deaths of BFD Lt. Edward Walsh and firefighter Michael Kennedy, who were killed battling a fire in the Back Bay in March. Kennedy is buried at the cemetery’s Fireman’s Lot.
“This service is the one time of year when we remember the firefighters that have gone before us,” said BFD spokesperson Steve MacDonald in an email to the Gazette. “We are often joined by the families of those deceased. I think it gives comfort to the families to know that their loved ones are not forgotten.”
MacDonald said that the 121st Firefighter’s Memorial Sunday Service will start with a Catholic Mass conducted by BFD Chief Chaplain Rev. Daniel Mahoney at the Forest Hills Cemetery chapel at 8:30 a.m.
A procession will follow to the Firemen’s Lot, where the Honorable Rosemary Minehan will be the Orator of the Day, according to MacDonald. Minehan is a Massachusetts judge and sister of Lt. Steve Minehan of Ladder 15, who was killed at a warehouse fire in Charlestown 20 years ago.
“At this service, we place a small bouquet of flowers at each gravesite of a firefighter buried there,” said MacDonald.
He said that afterwards, families and friends will join the BFD and officials from Firefighters Local 718 at Florian Hall in Dorchester where the names of Walsh and Kennedy will be unveiled on the memorial tablets that are at the entrance to the building.
The Fireman’s Lot at Forest Hills Cemetery was purchased in 1857 by the Charitable Association of the Boston Fire Department, which holds the annual June memorial, according to the City’s website. The lot holds the remains of 135 members of BFD.
A 26-foot monument at the lot was erected in 1909, according to the City’s website. The monument includes a nine-foot bronze statue of a firefighter with his firefighting gear.