Thousands gather to remember Chicago firefighter

December 29, 2010 4:39:07 AM PST
Thousands packed a Chicago chapel Tuesday to honor firefighter Edward Stringer, who is being called a selfless hero.

Stringer died last Wednesday during what he loved, fighting fires.

Colleagues say Stringer will always be remembered as the first one in and the last one out.

Mayor Richard Daley called Stringer a brave, good man taken from us too soon.

Stringer, 47, was a 12-year veteran of the Chicago Fire Department. His fellow firefighters say he was a brave, take-charge guy but also loved practical jokes.

Tuesday morning, people came from all over the country and North America to say goodbye.

Thousands of mourners, family, friends and fellow firefighters, from Chicago, the nation and even Canada, came to pay their respects to the fallen firefighter at St. Rita of Cascia Chapel on the city's Southwest Side.

"It's just an honor to serve people," said friend Terrance McSwain. "He did it to the best of his ability. He did it better than any of us. He is truly a hero and deserving of that title."

Stringer and another firefighter Corey Ankum were killed and 17 others were injured last week when an abandoned building on fire collapsed. The firefighters were inside searching for homeless people who may have been trapped.

Tuesday, Stringer's uniform hung from his fire truck. His casket was also carried by the truck in the procession. His mother was escorted by his comrades.

"A lot of great respect at the turnout. That is a lot of hono,r and hopefully we have the same for Ankum's funeral as well," said Bret Renaud, firefighter.

"He was one of the first in, one of the lastout, always on the front line," said Father Tom Mulcrone, CFD chaplain.

"Today we are here to honor Ed and the sacrifice he made, the ultimate sacrifice. We are here as a family to celebrate his life. We're here to show our respect for someone who always answered the call with enthusiasm to save a life and protect the property of people he didn't even know," said Commissioner Robert Hoff, Chicago Fire Department.

After the service, hundreds of vehicles followed Stringer's casket to be buried in a Beverly cemetery.

Mayor Daley also gave his condolences to the Stringer family.

"Today we say the last farewell to firefighter Edward J. Stringer Senior, who gave the ultimate sacrifice to the people of the City of Chicago," said Mayor Daley. "We pray for the all the families and men and women of the Chicago Fire Department. We are fortunate to have a very dedicated, passionate, committed fire department.."

Firefighters from Boston who could not get a flight because of the weather drove through the blizzard to come to Stringer's funeral.

In the service, Stringer was described as a noble warrior, someone who was a firefighter to truly make a difference, not for the recognition.

Visitation for Corey Ankum, the other firefighter killed last week, is Wednesday from 2 to 8 p.m. at Apostolic Church of God in Chicago. His wake is Thursday morning at 10 in the same location. His funeral follows an hour later, also at Apostolic Church of God.


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