In touching tribute to a young woman who performed as a band majorette at the recent inauguration and just one week later was randomly gunned down in a park in Chicago, First Lady Michelle Obama will be attending the funeral of Hadiya Pendleton this Saturday, February 9th. Per MSNCB.com, both White House adviser Valerie Jarrett and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will attend as well.
My Addicting Info colleague, Deborah Montesano, originally covered the story of Pendleton’s death in 15-Year-Old Shot Dead One Week After Performing At President’s Inauguration; it was later reported that the park where Pendleton was shot was just a mile from the Obama’s Chicago home. According to police and witness reports, Pendleton was with a group of friends when stray bullets from a “gunman who apparently was not even aiming at her” took her life.
The story of the young woman’s death inspired national headlines, in no small part because she had just performed at the inauguration, but the larger issue of gun violence and its pervasive and seemingly unstoppable devastation of citizens of every age lent the story particular poignance. Pendleton was said to be “nonviolent, anti-gang and educationally minded.” Her heartbroken mother, Cleo Cowley, spoke to Politics Nation with Al Sharpton about her beloved daughter:
“She loved life, and she was a true teenager, just a kid,” Cowley told Reverend Sharpton. She spoke of her daughter’s “huge heart,” her quirkiness and her strong love for her family, especially her brother. “She had aspirations for being an adult but she was just 15 and enjoying it,” Cowley said. “I used to talk to her about these years being some of the best years of your life, ‘get in there and just enjoy them, you’re going to make a difference.’”
Choking back tears, she continued, “She was Hadiya. She was just special.” [… ]
Cowley broke down as she described receiving the call from Hadiya’s friend, learning she’d been shot. “Never in a million years did I ever dream I would get a call about my baby being shot.”
The many “calls to action” regarding gun violence are loud and growing. The fallout and sense of outrage is even being felt by the purportedly impervious NRA, which, it’s been noted, is now seen as so out-of-touch and tone-deaf on the topic, “voters are less likely to support their candidates.”
But for this weekend, this tender, heartbreaking moment in time, the focus is on Hadiya Pendleton; mourning her death, celebrating her life, and praying she will rest in peace. Her family, her friends, and a weary, watching nation mourn her as another bright, promising child lost to the virulent plague of gun violence. But hopefully the presence of First Lady Michelle Obama will offer some measure of sympathy and solace, honoring the event as the solemn, moving tribute it is…to the young lady who smiled, marched, and twirled her baton in honor of the President.
[See video of Cleo Cowley’s interview with Reverend Al Sharpton:]