A beloved Massachusetts firefighter who died while battling a blaze in 2017 was honored Saturday on the anniversary of his death.
Watertown Firefighter Joseph Toscano, a married father of five, died on March 17, 2017 afer collapsing at the scene of a 2-alarm fire on Merrifield Avenue. City officials said he collapsed from an apparent heart attack.
On Saturday, one year after his death, Watertown honored Toscano with a memorial dedication ceremony at the corner of Merrifield Avenue and Bigelow Avenue, where they revealed Joseph Toscano Square.
It had been 12 months since some have had the courage to return to the place where Toscano died.
"It was very difficult for me to come back by here for a long time and when I did come by it was hard for me to look at the house," Fire Chief Robert Quinn said.
Toscano's wife Marueen said through tears that her husband would have been deeply touched to have his name on the corner in Watertown where they first met 27 years ago.
The entire Watertown fire department came out to the dedication ceremony Saturday morning to honor Toscano, who is remembered as a "man of great integrity and honor" with a "heart of gold."
"It's beautiful, beautiful," Maureen said, "and it really does give us strenth."
For many, they are trading in painful memories of loss and replacing them with a memorial where they can come and remember a remarkable man.
"Just his committment and his loyalty. He just loved the fire department and it shows," Maureen said.
Just like Toscano's long-lasting effect on his community and loved ones, Joseph Toscano Square will be around for years to come.
The 54-year-old was a 20-year veteran of the fire department. More than 1,000 firefighters and other public servants lined up in rows to pay respects to one of their own as Toscano's body was carried into St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Watertown.
"May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warmly upon your face. May the rain fall softly, and until we meet agin, may God hold you in his hand."