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Paying respects

Started: 2017-12-30 13:15:52

Submitted: 2017-12-30 15:09:13

Visibility: World-readable

In which the intrepid narrator his pays respects to San Francisco's mayor
Flag flying in front of San Francisco City Hall
Flag flying in front of San Francisco City Hall

Ed Lee was mayor of San Francisco when I moved to the city last year. He was the city's first Asian-American mayor, an important milestone in the city with a the largest percentage of Asian-Americans. I have not paid attention to city politics (except to sigh softly as the city continues its policies that limit growth in housing and then acts confused when prices continue to rise), but I could count on seeing Mayor Lee smiling and waving at the crowd in the city's parades. I can only find one photo I took of him in this year's Chinese New Year parade; but I'm sure I've seen him in other parades as well.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee in the Lunar New Year parade
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee in the Lunar New Year parade

Ed Lee died earlier this month in the middle of his second term in office. I was on-call that week, so I took Friday off, and ended up with the afternoon free at the same the mayor was laying in state in City Hall.

I headed to Civic Center and saw a large American flag hanging between two ladder trucks in front of City Hall. I joined the line snaking around the block and looping around onto the street to the north. The line was filled mostly with people of East Asian descent, and the mood was subdued. (I heard the group behind me talking in Chinese with words like "impeach" and "Congress" and "taxes" sprinkled in the conversation.) I saw pairs of figures lurking on top of the Federal courthouse north of the square and Billy Graham Civic Auditorium south of the square. As the line moved forward and we approached the entrance I saw a reporter from the local Telemundo affiliate talking into a camera, and State Senator Scott Wiener talking to people in line.

The line advanced to the main steps, into the building, through a security checkpoint, and into the main hall.

Mourners enter City Hall
Mourners enter City Hall

The mayor's flag-draped casket was sitting in the main hall, in front of the great staircase, under the rotunda, surrounded by an honor guard of San Francisco police officers and sheriff deputies. When my time came I stood in front of the casket, awkwardly wondering precisely how I ought to pay my respects to the mayor of my city while the people around me did perfectly-calibrated bows for the mayor.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee laying in state in City Hall
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee laying in state in City Hall

The line took me into the atrium south of the great hall, where tables were set up for mourners to write their remembrances for the mayor. I did not have anything specific to say, so I went past the tables and left the building, pleased to have had my chance to participate in the civic remembrance for my city's mayor.

David and I are in a contest to see who can fail that class the hardest.
- Brent Page, re COBOL class, 26 October 1999