Saturday, June 11, 2011

Firefighters Funeral at Saint Mary's

Thousands of public safety employees from the Bay Area and beyond attended the Catholic funerals for Lt. Vincent Perez and paramedic/firefighter Anthony Valerio at St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco on Friday. They had died fighting a house fire in Diamond Heights the week before.

According to an article at SFGate, the 53-year-old Valerio was eulogized by union boss Tom O'Connor as "a pony-tailed hippy who called himself 'The People's Paramedic.' He had a big heart and unbounded capacity to help the downtrodden."

There was a major media presence...

...possibly because this was a huge event for the old San Francisco Catholic power structure to reaffirm their centrality in this city...

...with everyone from Governor Brown to Congresswoman Pelosi in attendance.

It made one wonder what the scene would have been like if the firefighters had been Lutheran or Jewish or atheists, for instance.

After the funeral there was a huge motorcade south down the 280 freeway to the Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma, which had people whining on internet message boards about public safety workers blocking rush hour traffic and costing taxpayer money...

...which sounded rather mean-spirited.


Your driver said...

Had they not been Catholic the Fire Fighters would have turned out in the same numbers but the politicians might have sent staff.
I'm glad you mentioned that angle though. I recently found myself in a room full of San Francisco Irish Catholic old timers, most of them connected to the SFFD or the SFPD. The funeral was the number one topic and it was apparent that it was of major importance to the Irish community. There was a lot of discussion on the Fire Fighter's station, which was considered a dangerous station and some discussion of what Parish the dead had belonged to. Even though some of the men present were younger than me it was like a visit to old times in San Francisco.

janinsanfran said...

Yes, this was very much an old time San Francisco event. That city is mostly gone and their unions fight local hiring rules. But they built the place in their time.

The funeral disrupted my life because I had to get to Kaiser on Geary concurrently. The entire street was closed for hours. But I am damned if I begrudge these guys their send-off!