(BCN) — Shaded in the gilded dome of San Francisco’s City Hall, presenters including Mayor London Breed, Vice President Kamala Harris, House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer delivered remembrances of Dianne Feinstein to a crowd of sun-drenched dignitaries Thursday. The trailblazing politician died last week at the age of 90.
Their reflections were interrupted, sometimes accented, by random flyovers by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels aerobatic jet corps, who were practicing for San Francisco Fleet Week. Breed was quick to point out that Feinstein brought the Blue Angels to San Francisco in 1981, and now they were back to say goodbye. She recalled Feinstein being a source of advice when she became mayor.
“Gold in peace, iron in war,” said Breed describing Feinstein’s support and advice to her throughout the pandemic. “Dianne will not only be remembered for what she showed us as an adult, but for what she showed us as children.”
An audio message from President Joe Biden recognized Feinstein’s children and described her legacy as a leadership based on integrity, something the nation needs.
“Democracy depends not only on our Constitution, but on the constitution of character,” Biden said.
Harris remembers her first meeting with Feinstein.
“When I was sworn into the Senate in 2017, it was Dianne that welcomed me,” she said. “She invited me to her Senate hideaway. There, with one hand she presented me with a glass of California chardonnay. And with the other hand, a binder full of her draft bills.”
Harris said Feinstein’s dedication to the country was above political differences. She described a secure meeting room where “both parties took off their jackets and got to work, making decisions on what’s in the best interest of national security.”
That room, Harris said, was “quintessentially Dianne.”
Schumer, D-New York, told a story about a Lake Tahoe Summit meeting where Feinstein broke a bone in her foot and went on with the meeting.
“I asked her how she got through the day, and she said, ‘I just did,'” Schumer said.
Pelosi was Feinstein’s neighbor as well as a colleague. She listed the many ways the senator has been honored since her death last Friday, including weekend tributes by the San Francisco 49ers and Giants, and by the Blue Angels at San Francisco Fleet Week.
She acknowledged the great number of congressional representatives present, as well as a large section of former staffers who cheered for themselves and Feinstein, almost a third of the crowd.
Final respects were spoken by Feinstein’s granddaughter, Eileen Mariano, who listed the contributions Feinstein made to the city of San Francisco, the state of California, and the United States.
“My grandmother saved the cable car and rebuilt Pier 39, she supported her people during the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” said Mariano. “She saved Joshua Tree, Death Valley and Lake Tahoe. And she spoke against torture and assault weapons.”
Almost all of the speakers mentioned assault weapons. As a senator, Feinstein proposed and succeeded in passing a 10-year ban on assault weapons, but her subsequent efforts to renew the ban failed.
Feinstein was the longest-serving woman senator in U.S. history and San Francisco’s first woman mayor and first woman president of its Board of Supervisors.
Her initial mayoral term was an emergency appointment following the assassination of Mayor George Moscone on Nov. 27, 1978. Although the city has an outward reputation for tolerance, it is still wrestling with domestic threats.
In an interview before the memorial ceremony, current San Francisco Board of Supervisors president Aaron Peskin said that last week, every Jewish member of the board received antisemitic postcards at their personal home addresses, the day after a stream of phone calls filled a public meeting with hate speech.
“It was obviously meant to intimidate supervisors in their own homes. It was not a death threat,” said Peskin. “It was a very ugly off-color thing, just virulently anti-Semitic.”
Peskin remembered Feinstein’s undying dedication to San Francisco.
“In all sorts of ways, she never stopped being mayor of San Francisco,” he said. “There were times when she did not like what I was doing and made that abundantly clear. She would call from Washington, D.C., to tell you what she liked or dislike, because she loved the place.”
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