One has to think that Fire Capt. Michael Goodwin was looking down from above on the scene in front of his family’s home in Parkwood and smiling.
There they were, his widow and grown son and daughter, standing strong together, with American flags in front of them and a phalanx of firefighters behind. Their faces are drawn in grief over the profound loss they feel, but they are together. A family.
Goodwin on Saturday became the 289th Philadelphia firefighter to die in the line of duty since the department began keeping records in 1871. As he stood atop a burning building in Queen Village, the roof collapsed beneath him. There’s no doubt he died a hero.
His son, Mike Jr., told the press and neighbors gathered outside the family’s home on Monday that his father would help anybody he could. “It didn’t matter who you were. He would run into that building and pull you out.”
Mike Jr. said what we all know. Firefighters here and elsewhere deserve our respect because they run into burning buildings when everyone else is running out.
His pastor, the Rev. Marjorie Neal, once asked him why he, a veteran fire captain, would put himself in dangerous situations. She said Goodwin told her, “ ‘I refuse to send my men into places I wouldn’t go myself.’ ”
Goodwin was in charge of a company of men at the fire scene in Queen Village. There’s no doubt he died a leader.
For some time to come, the Goodwin family will receive a tremendous amount of support from the captain’s fellow firefighters. When something in the house needs to be fixed, they will be there. When the holidays roll around, they will be there.
The Goodwin family has lost its captain, a good man. But from the looks of it, his family will remain strong, comforted by the knowledge that he died doing what he loved. Serving others. ••