If I had only attended Lowell High School— [laughter] —perhaps I would have been part of the program instead of in the intermission. [Laughter]
I want to say a few words as President, because the death of George Moscone was a national tragedy. And I want to say a few words as President, because you've come here not for oratory, but to pay tribute to a fallen leader and to enjoy the performance of superb artists. I know that George Moscone, had he been able to choose a program this evening, would have called on Maestro Adler 1 to present to us what we have been honored and privileged to enjoy.
1Kurt Adler, general director of the San Francisco Opera.
George Moscone was a lover of music and a lover of people and a lover of this city. He was always gracious to me and to Rosalynn when we came to visit San Francisco, far beyond what his duties as mayor would have required. And I knew him, as President, as a superb mayor, a leader throughout America who had a special vision of what urban America ought to be. He helped me when we began to draft a plan for the entire Nation, and he showed a special compassion for a city and also a special compassion and concern for the rights of others, particularly when they were a minority or poor or timid or quiet or inarticulate or abused.
Gina, you know that we extend to you our sympathy, but we also express our pride in what George was and what he helped to create here.
For Americans in the last 16 years, assassination has partially blighted our lives, because those who have been killed have been America's finest. Assassination of a public official robs us all, in a way. It takes away our freedom. It takes away our rights to enjoy the blessings of democracy, to be able to choose our own leaders and then to have those leaders govern us throughout their entire term of office. That's why it's such a shattering blow and always again so unexpected when a tragedy of this kind occurs.
George Moscone spent most of his adult life, as you know, serving the people of this city and this county in a financially sacrificial way. That's one of the results of personal integrity and honesty. And he was not able to live to leave a large financial estate for his family, as you know. But he left them a personal heritage that's even more precious and which is dramatically proven tonight and in previous efforts by those who loved him and appreciate him and Gina and the children and Lee, his mother, who have established this foundation to provide for security and a greater life for them.
San Francisco has shown its ability to survive shocks, and this event tonight, your participation in it, what's gone on before, has helped us all to realize that San Francisco is still strong enough and united enough to survive this second major shock that came during the end of 1978.
I appreciate Dianne Feinstein,2 who, with her calm and compassionate leadership, preserved the precious attributes of this city during those trying days. It's a magical city on the bay, which has the admiration and appreciation and love of the entire country. And you demonstrated again a special spirit by being able, during this event, to change grief and loss into love and hope.
2 Ms. Feinstein succeeded Mr. Moscone as mayor of San Francisco.