When it comes to September 11, we all pay tribute in our own way. For some of us, that means remembering through silence and ceremony, like the memorial service at Civic Center this Sunday. For others, it means showing solidarity, like the Luxor taxi drivers whose fleet will be decorated with American flags for the weekend. And for some, it means asking questions to uncover the truth behind that day a decade ago.
Though our city is thousands of miles from Ground Zero, the impact of September 11, 2001 is evident even here. In the weeks surrounding the attack, San Franciscans banded together to provide blood drives, donations and countless volunteer hours to help support those in New York. In a press release outlining this weekend's memorial events, Mayor Ed Lee explained how San Francisco has grown from the event:
“The attacks on 9/11 represent a great tragedy, and although we were 3,000 miles away, the loss is certainly felt in our city. It is important to me and to the people of San Francisco that we honor the fallen including San Francisco heroes Betty Ong, Mark Bingham and all others who died that day, and take time to reflect on what that day means for all of us,” said Lee. “The world changed that day, but keeping our city safe remains my highest priority. Working together with city agencies and law enforcement, our city is stronger than it was on 9/11, more prepared and more resilient than ever.”
This weekend, on the tenth anniversary, San Francisco flags will fly at half staff and Coit Tower will glow red, white and blue. The city will be alive with performances, ceremonies, festivals and remembrances to honor those lost on September 11, and to celebrate our lives going forward.
Check out slideshow below for a preview of September 11 activities throughout the city:
On Saturday, San Francisco Opera honors those lost in 9/11 with the world premier of "Heart of a Soldier", the remarkable true story of Rick Rescorla, a Goldman Sachs employee who led 2,700 people to safety from the top floors of the second tower, before returning for one last sweep, never to be seen again. Then on Sunday, for its annual Opera in the Park celebration, the Opera will perform a free special presentation in memory of September 11.
Founded by a volunteer firefighter who assisted with rescue efforts at Ground Zero as a civilian, the Transamerica Building 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb gathers 343 firefighters for a 96-floor memorial stair climb. Civilians and families can join in with a memorial ceremony, and a family barbecue with bounce houses and live music following the event.
When the towers fell in New York, Bay Area artist Michele Pred was working as a limo driver, and experienced firsthand the anxieties -- and oftentimes hysteria -- surrounding travel and security. Pred was particularly interested in the outlawing of seemingly harmless carry-on items. In response, Pred created "Confiscated" -- an exhibit created from items confiscated at the San Francisco International Airport, including red crosses made of penknives and American flags made of lighters and nail files. Showing now at Jack Fischer Gallery.
It wouldn't be a national disaster without a few conspiracy theorists. For those with questions: the 9/11 Truth Film Festival, a benefit for the Northern California 9/11 Truth Alliance. On Sunday from 1:00 to 8:30pm, the Hearbst Theatre hosts a series of films and speakers examining the events of September 11.
For HandsOn Bay Area, the greatest form of tribute is service. So on Sunday, 500 volunteers will gather at the Veterans War Memorial Building at Civic Center to pay tribute, and help serve a collective 9,011 hours of service to veterans, seniors, the homeless, military personnel, schools and the environment.