Firefighters lined Fifth Avenue before the Funeral Mass celebrated by Cardinal Dolan at St. Patrick’s Cathedral March 27 to pay tribute to Lieutenant Michael R. Davidson who died battling a fire in Harlem March 23.
Cardinal Dolan, in his homily, said the Funeral Mass was about “two extraordinary significant people, two people we know and love very, very much,” referring to Jesus Christ and Lt. Davidson. Cardinal Dolan said the firefighter had a lot in common with “our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
“Jesus taught, ‘Greater love than this no one has than to lay down his life for another.’ Jesus did that, so did Lt. Davidson,” Cardinal Dolan said. “Jesus came to give life and save life; so did Firefighter Michael Davidson.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio, delivering one of five eulogies, said, “Our city is in pain today. We’re mourning for this good family and we’re mourning for our Fire Department. We’re here in grief, but we’re also here in solidarity to stand by this family.
“Michael made this city great through his actions every day.”
Lt. Davidson, 37, a 15-year veteran of the New York City Fire Department who attended Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens and Iona College in New Rochelle, died fighting a fire that started in the basement of a building being used as a movie set.
Lt. Davidson, the son of a retired FDNY firefighter, Robert, and brother of a FDNY firefighter, Eric, leaves behind his wife Eileen and four young children.
FDNY Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro called Lt. Davidson a leader by example for his fellow firefighters. The commissioner promoted Lt. Davidson posthumously to lieutenant March 24.
“Leadership is not simply about rank,” said Nigro in his eulogy. “It’s about how you carry yourself, how much harder you work than everyone else and how much effort you put in to set a strong example for others to follow.”
Thousands of firefighters from the Northeast lined Fifth Avenue and were joined by members of the New York City Police Department. The FDNY Emerald Society Pipes and Drums led a fire truck from Engine 69 in Harlem down Fifth Avenue with Lt. Davidson’s casket draped in a FDNY flag.
Eric Davidson thanked everyone for attending the Mass and for the overwhelming support his family has received. The Bronx firefighter described his brother as humble, compassionate and sincere, and a great family man. Instead of regaling the congregation with more stories about his brother, he requested their assistance.
“That’s where you guys all come in,” said Davidson in closing his eulogy to a standing ovation. “That’s what I’m asking all of you to do. Remember the good times, remember the funny moments, tell the funny stories, and when you think of Michael, please please please I beg of you, laugh, don’t cry. He wouldn’t want it any other way.”