Newtown Funeral: Firemen Salute 7-Year-Old Who Never Got to Be One of Them
12/20/2012 AT 08:20 AM EST
Honoring the first-grader at Daniel's funeral Wednesday at Saint Rose of Lima Church was an honor guard of 100 uniformed firefighters from New York City and Connecticut's Simsbury, New London, Lyme and elsewhere, reports the Connecticut Post.
Their entire number flanked both sides of the driveway of the church and stood at attention as Daniel's grief-stricken family rode by in the funeral procession. Bagpipes played "America the Beautiful."
Daniel, who played soccer and swam on the Newtown Torpedoes swim team, received a fireman's funeral.
"There's a new playground in heaven, a playground with 20 beautiful, perfect little angels," school-bus driver Gary Wheeler said in the packed church during the 10 a.m. service. "Daniel is one of those angels."
"We came here to show support," John Cummings of Ladder Co. 45 in New York City told the Post. Daniel's cousins are firefighters in N.Y.C., some 80 miles from Newtown, and word of his desire to become one of them spread through text messages Tuesday, resulting in the show of love and support on Wednesday.
"This is a part of our extended family," firefighter Lt. Eddie Boles, who works alongside Daniel's cousins in Harlem, told the Los Angeles Times. "After 9/11 the whole country extended its sympathy to New York, so we're here to show our support for this community."
Six more funerals and four wakes are scheduled in Newtown for Thursday.