On Friday, June 10, 2011, I attended the funerals of Lt. Vincent Perez and FF/PM Anthony Valerio at St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco. Â I had the honor to ride in with friends from two allied agencies. Â As is usually the case at events such as this, I was struck by a great many things.
The Brotherhood. Â There is a long-standing tradition of good-natured rivalry between Police and Fire. Â When tragic times hit either service, those lines aren’t just blurred, they go away. Â I’ve been involved in processions for fallen officers in which every freeway overpass is manned by a crew of firefighters and their rigs. Â They either stand in front of or on top of the rigs and salute as we pass beneath them. Â I assure you it is terribly difficult to ride a motorcycle when you can’t see from the tears.
Public Support. Â There were a lot of people in uniform at the service. Â There were also a lot of people in civilian attire. Â I wish more people understood what a little show of support does for us. Â I wish it didn’t take something as tragic and permanent as death to goad folks in that direction.
Camaraderie. Â This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned this particular phenomenon, nor will it be the last. Â There is something indescribable about sharing a sorrowful afternoon and then breaking bread with a tight-knit group of like-minded friends. Â The meal was good. Â The company was better.
There isn’t much more to be said about the lives of Perez and Valerio. Â Other people that knew them well have done an excellent job at that. Â It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Â I’ve written enough. Â Here’s a few thousand words: