Charlotte was awarded Andrew's service medal and bid farewell to her father with a final kiss.
It is no doubt that the bond a daughter and her father share is like no other relationship one can have. Most daughters yearn to be by their father's side, to learn from them and moreover to grow up experiencing their love. There is nothing more heartbreaking than being devoid of that experience. Unfortunately, an innocent 20-month-old daughter had to bid farewell to her father without being able to make many memories with him.
According to People, Charlotte O’Dwyer stood by her firefighter father, Andrew O’Dwyer's casket after he passed away battling the wildfires in New South Wales on 7 January 2020. The little girl in a white dress was seen wearing her father's helmet and his newly presented service medal. The funeral photos showed the girl next to the casket wrapped with the Rural Fire Service flag with her hands on her father's helmet.
Andrew's wife Melissa, along with their other two kids, also attended the funeral. Melissa tearfully watched her little girl holding on to the casket. While the family and the community mourned, little Charlotte sat under her father's casket and began eating from a bag of chips. It brought smiles to many faces even while they were broken inside.
The emotional funeral service held at Our Lady of Victories Catholic Church in Horsley Park was attended by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Hundreds of families also gathered to pay their respects to the firefighter who died after a tree fell down and pushed his truck off the road while fighting the fires.
During the ceremony, Rural Fire Service (RFS) Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons awarded Andrew's service medal to Charlotte and pinned it on her white dress. He told the young girl that her father was a "hero." Delivering the eulogy at the ceremony he said, "Charlotte should know her father was a selfless and special man, who only left because he was a hero," reported Daily Mail. He also gave flags of the RFS to Melissa and Andrew’s father Errol. The Commissioner went further to announce that the Horsley Park RFS firetruck would have “In memory of Andrew O’Dwyer” written on its passenger side door.
However, mourners could not hide their tears when little Charlotte kissed her dad a final goodbye. Soon, the firefighter's body was carried outside while hundreds of RFS volunteers paid respects to him by putting their hands on their hearts. They also performed a haka in honor of Andrew.
Apart from Andrew, 32-year-old Geoffrey Keaton was also killed in the same incident. Geoffrey too was a father to a 20-month-old child, according to 9News.
The Australian wildfires are reported to have taken the lives of lives of at least 25 people and an estimate of a billion animals. It is known to have lead to the destruction of more than 11 million acres.