Daniel Barden, a student at Sandy Hook Elementary School, idolized his father's cousins who are firefighters with the Fire Department of New York (FDNY).
Even at the young age of 7-years-old, Daniel knew exactly what he wanted to be when he grew up; a firefighter just like his father's cousins. Sadly he never got that chance, struck by one of Adam Lanza bullets, becoming one of the 20 children tragically killed on Friday.
On Wednesday, hundreds of mourners packed St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church to say goodbye to Daniel. Those in attendance included numerous firefighters, police officers and other first responders.
Lining the streets in front of the church where more than 100 firefighters from New York City, Simsbury, New London, Lyme and elsewhere. Most were standing at attention in full dress uniform, saluting the hearse as it passed by. Other played "American the Beautiful" on bagpiles. As the funeral concluded, they played a beautiful, yet equally haunting rendition of "Amazing Grace".
Firefighters from the FDNY and other departments stand at attention during the funeral procession for Daniel Barden.
As Monsignor Robert Weiss looked out into the packed church, calling Daniel a “spark” in the lives of everyone who knew him, he could see firefighters and police officers flanking the pews throughout the church during the 90-minute service.
During the service, Daniel's bus driver, Gary Wheeler, spoke of Daniel's "boundless energy" and "sky wide smile". He also told Daniel's family:
“Thank you, Barden family. Thank you for Daniel.”
John Cummings, treasure of the NYC Firefighters Brotherhood Associates, received a text message on Tuesday saying Daniel wanted to be a firefighter. He knew he wanted to attend the funeral and began to organize other firefighters who also wanted to honor Daniel.
Steve Elliott, a firefighter with FDNY's Ladder 23, was one of the firefighters who drove from New York to pay his respects to Daniel and his family. He told Radar:
"Daniel wanted to be a firefighter when he grew up. Word just spread, on Facebook, on Twitter, everyone just got right in their cars and drove."
Lt. Eddy Boles, another firefighter with the FDNY, told the Connecticut Post:
"We're here to show our support for this community like our community was deeply affected after 9/11. We're here to return the favor."
Firefighters line up along the funeral procession route for Daniel Barden.
Area firefighters visit a memorial to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims outside the school's entrance before the funeral procession for 7-year-old Daniel Gerard Barden