Sen. Dianne Feinstein remembered for her courage, toughness at heartfelt San Francisco memorial

SAN FRANCISCO – The late Senator Dianne Feinstein was celebrated in a memorial service Thursday, held on the steps of San Francisco’s City Hall where her remarkable political career began.

Security was high as invited attendees passed through a screening upon arrival before taking their seats in front of City Hall. There were also a number of street closures in effect around the building to accommodate the hundreds who were seated on Post Street for the memorial in addition to a wide security perimeter around the event.

ALSO READ: Sen. Dianne Feinstein and her legacy

Officials had planned to make the service open to the public with standing space in Civic Center Plaza, but announced early Wednesday evening that it would be a private event due to security concerns regarding the many dignitaries in attendance

Adam Russell, a spokesperson for Feinstein’s office, confirmed that the service would still be held outside, but noted the security perimeter would be too far back for the general public to see and hear.

UPDATE: Mourners pay respects to Sen. Dianne Feinstein at San Francisco City Hall

Feinstein was remembered by friends and colleagues as a pioneer whose political journey was marked by many firsts. Besides being the first president of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors and the city’s first female mayor, Feinstein was the first woman elected to represent California in the U.S. Senate alongside Barbara Boxer in 1992.

Dozens of members of Congress flew into San Francisco to attend the service including Sen. Alex Padilla, who is now the senior senator from California, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Congressman  Adam Schiff and Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren among others.

Vice President Kamala Harris, Senate Majority Leader and New York Senator Chuck Schumer, Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi, San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Sen. Feinstein’s granddaughter, Eileen Mariano were also in attendance and spoke at the memorial.

Mayor Breed was the first speaker, welcoming those gathered to San Francisco City Hall.

“Today, we honor the life of Senator Feinstein. That is her official title. It’s how Californians and people all over the world knew her. But to us, to San Franciscans, she was Mayor Dianne Feinstein,” Breed said before remembering how, as a 13-year-old French horn player at Benjamin Franklin School, she first met Feinstein.

“Over the years, we became Mayor Feinstein’s band. Whenever there was an important event or activity, she chose us to perform. We played at City Hall and at the Super Bowl celebrations. We proudly wore our band sweaters that she bought for us and Mayor Feinstein always took the time to talk to us, to tell us how amazing we were and to remind us that we were her band,” Breed said. 

After a recorded message from President Joe Biden where he praised her character and toughness, Vice President Kamala Harris took the stage.

“Dianne Feinstein was an icon of California.  She was an American patriot, a giant of the Senate, and a dear friend to Doug and me. She was also a student of history, a gifted—and I’ll add, very generous—artist, and a passionate leader. Simply put, she was a force…She was recognized around the world as a leader, a standard-bearer of America and of American values,” Harris said. “Dianne diligently focused on the impacts on real people, not ideology; substance, not showmanship; results, not rhetoric.”

Harris went on to laud Feinstein for her courage as a public servant and her fierce “defense of the Constitution and the security of the American people.”

Harris also remembered the celebration in San Francisco after both Feinstein and Boxer were elected to the U.S. Senate on Nov. 3, 1993, recalling the night that she, “a young prosecutor in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office,” left her Oakland home and drove across the Bay Bridge in her Toyota Corolla to witness that historic night. She also remembered how Feinstein welcomed her to the Senate in 2017. 

“With one hand, she presented me with a glass of California Chardonnay, and with the other, a binder full of her draft bills,” Harris said.

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