SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A special event commemorating 9/11 was held Monday in San Francisco. For the first time the city joined New York, Los Angeles and Phoenix in a unique program to turn a day of tragedy into something better.
Hundreds came together at Pier 35 to remember 9/11. There was a moment of silence, a poignant rendition of God Bless America, and the ringing of a ceremonial bell. Then, the day of tribute turned into a day of service.
Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi got to work with other volunteers packing boxes of breakfast foods - enough for 300,000 meals. "We'll never forget, but how do you remember? You remember with service and with helping others," Pelosi said.
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Philanthropic efforts like this were started by a nonprofit called My Good Deed. Now known as 9/11 day, it was created by families who lost loved ones that day. Like the Bay Area's Alice Hoagland whose son Mark Bingham was one of the heroes who fought the hijackers of flight 93. Hoagland says she misses her son, not just today, but every day.
Hoagland wasn't up to attending Tuesday's event in San Francisco, but talked over the phone about its special meaning.
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"I think it's wonderful that people want to turn the suffering and pain and horrible memories of 911 into something good and joyful," she said.
Congress and President Obama officially designated 9/11 as a national day of service and remembrance in 2009. It's now said to be the largest day of giving.
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Michelle Bailey, an employee with Union Bank volunteered Tuesday. "This is a way we can honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice of losing their lives," she said.
Tim Murphy says 9/11 inspired him to become a firefighter. He is a member of the San Francisco Fire Department's Veterans Organization. "It meant a lot to me to become a firefighter in my adult life. The sacrifice made that day by all involved can never be forgotten," Murphy said.
Organizers say 30 million Americans will take time to do a good deed today. The boxes of food packed at Pier 35 will be donated to the San Francisco Marin Food bank.
See more stories, photos, and video on 9/11 ceremonies.
San Franciscans join other US cities remembering 9/11 terror attacks by volunteering