San Francisco police, firefighters commemorate 9/11 anniversary 

Under a beautiful sky Saturday morning, The City’s Civic Center turned somber as officials joined police and firefighters to commemorate the eve of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks’ 10th anniversary.

Click on the photo at right to see a slideshow of SFPD and SFFD commemorating the 9/11 anniversary.

Before the ceremony, police Chief Greg Suhr recalled heading to an operations center shortly after the World Trade Center buildings fell, when the location of the hijacked San Francisco-bound United Airlines Flight 93 was still in question.

“There were hours there where we were wondering if a plane was headed here,” Suhr said.

U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi was set to board a plane for New York to commemorate the anniversary, but first made the appearance in San Francisco. Asked if Americans should feel safer now than a decade ago, she said Sept. 11 launched a new era of vigilance.

“We’re stronger now in that we are more aware,” Pelosi told media before her speech. “Freedom and security have been a challenge since the beginning of the country.”

An American flag held up between two fire engine ladders served as the backdrop to a podium in front of City Hall, where speeches drew tears from onlookers.

Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White took a moment to remember the lives of Tony Vallerio and Vinnie Perez — two local firefighters who died fighting a house blaze in June. She also noted the bravery of San Francisco firefighters on “the first plane out” to New York to help with the rescue and recovery at the World Trade Center site.

Fire Capt. Tom O’Connor closed the ceremony by saying the anniversary should serve as a reminder of the national unity that resulted from the tragedy and the human capacity for selfless service.

“That is our duty this September, and for a lifelong of Septembers,” O’Connor said.

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