Pelosi Remarks at Memorial Service for San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee

Dec 18, 2017
Press Release

Contact: Taylor Griffin, 202-226-7616

San Francisco – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks to honor San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee at his memorial service.  Below are the Leader’s remarks: 

Leader Pelosi.  Good afternoon everyone.  On behalf of the Congress of the United States, I am very sad to join Senator [Dianne] Feinstein and others who are here, joining the official family of our community to bring sympathy and condolences to Anita, to Brianna, to Tania and the entire family.

When we learned during the night about Mayor Lee’s passing – it was so shocking to all of us.  We met that morning in our usual Democratic Caucus meeting – [Congresswoman] Barbara Lee came forward, who is here today, and she presented to our Caucus our sad loss.  [Congresswoman] Jackie Speier and I were crying too much to even speak – Barbara had the composure.  But then many Members of the House of Representatives [joined] in a Congressional Record statement singing the praises of this great man, Ed Lee, so that everyone who followed the workings of Congress would know the esteem in which he was held.

[Senator] Kamala Harris is here and we are also joined in singing the praises of Ed Lee by our Congressional Asian Pacific Caucus, Senator [Mazie] Hirono who is representing not only the Senate but that Caucus.

So the full value of who he was, what his legacy is and difference he made will be there forever for everyone to see.  So we gather here heartbroken – heartbroken.  And I didn’t know this until now, but we gather here in this glorious building and meet [under] the rotunda inscription which says, ‘San Francisco: O glorious city of our hearts that has been tried and not found wanting, go thou with like spirit and make the future thine.’  That was what Ed was about – he was hard-working, he was hopeful, he dreamed of securing San Francisco as a dynamic, innovative model for the nation.

So many mayors are here – the Mayor of Denver, the Mayor of Oakland, the Mayor of San Jose, many of our previous mayors who have been referenced.  Mayor Lee’s decade of service to our city – more than a decade – leaves an enduring and inspiring legacy that generations of San Franciscans will enjoy.

So many times reporters have said to many of us, ‘When was the last time you saw him?’  For many of us in this room, the last time we were really with him for a long period of time was the interfaith breakfast right before Thanksgiving and it was one of those times when Ed spoke from the heart so beautifully, as he always did, but he was connected – he connected that morning on the subject of homelessness and his promise to take 1,000 people off the streets this winter and the crowd was so with him.  There were people who he had worked with over the years – many of them are here – certainly Bishop Andrews was there.

Then to see him up here – he always had that smile – he smiled when he talked and he gave you confidence – gave you hope that it would happen – he smiled and he connected and he twirled the LGBT flag, the rainbow flag right before the march, he smiled when we went to YouthBuild when we talked about housing and homelessness, we talked about civil rights, we talked about education – it was so important to him – and that means lifetime learning.

We went to YouthBuild with these kids and members of unions who there to train young people into professions tasked by the private sector so they would have jobs.  He smiled when the Davies Chamber performed here because he saw the value in the arts, of bringing people together – took pride in his own heritage and bringing his heritage and the arts together here, but also taking it to China, seeing how that would be bonding.

The pride he took in his Asian American heritage, Chinese-American heritage, enabled him to see the pride that others took in theirs and so that increased his appreciation for what his challenge was in his city – as a model to the country to bring people together.

Every subject that he was involved in – he smiled, he connected – whether it was housing, cutting ribbon at housing events, whether it was YouthBuild – whatever it was.  When it was time to take the official photo, people would say, ‘Where is Ed?  Where’s the Mayor?’  The Mayor was listening.  He was listening – he was connecting with the people who were affected by it all.  Such dignity, such humility – such humility in this great man.  It is really a terrible, terrible loss for us but we have to appreciate the time we did have with him.

I’ll share one story that he appreciated because, you know, when you’re appointed and you’re doing a job – Senator Feinstein spelled it out so clearly – that’s one thing – but when you get in the arena to run, it’s another story.  Governor [Brown], you know that.  When you’re a candidate, it’s another story.

So I told him this story, he laughed, I’ll tell you.  There was this African Presbyterian bishop in Africa and he posted this statement on the wall of a hospital – some nun sent me this story and those of you who have ever run for office or have had an official position can identify with – on it said, ‘One day, when I leave this life and I have to go and meet my maker, he will say to me: show me your wounds.  If I have no wounds he will say: was nothing worth fighting for?’  Our dear Ed, he can show his wounds because so much was worth fighting for and he can show them with a smile and with great pride.

And as the Ecclesiasticus says when it has the version that says, ‘Now let us praise great men’ – it says, ‘People will tell of his wisdom and the congregation will continue to sing his praise.

Anita, Tania, Brianna, the entire family, thank you for sharing Ed with all of us, thank you for sharing him with the world.

In his honor, our Congressional Delegation has a flag flown over the Capitol in his name just hours after we got the news of his passing.  Here he was, from an immigrant family, flag flown over the Capitol – dignitaries gathered to sing his praises but he would be most interested in the people he worked for.  He knew the measure of his success – or any public figure’s success – is not the honors received, but the difference he made in the lives of regular people in our community.

I hope it is a comfort to all of you that so many people share your grief, mourn your loss and are praying for you in this sad time.  Everybody in this room loves San Francisco – everybody in this room loves Ed Lee.

Thank you.

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