It was exactly one year ago today that the world lost another precious soul to gun violence. Hadiya Pendleton’s life was tragically cut short when she was struck by a stray bullet while standing with friends inside Vivian Gordon Harsh Park just moments after taking final exams. An honor student at King College Prep High School, Pendleton died just one week after returning from the trip of a lifetime; performing at events for President Obama’s second inauguration.
In a piece appearing in the Chicago Tribune, Hadiya’s parents Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton and Nathaniel Pendleton, wrote about the affects of not just Pendleton’s death on them, but gun violence in Chicago and the nation as a whole.
A year ago this month, our 15-year-old daughter, Hadiya Pendleton, a band majorette at King College Prep High School, marched in Washington as part of President Barack Obama’s inaugural celebration. Just a month later, we were back in our nation’s capital as guests of the president and first lady at his State of the Union address — but there was no celebrating this time.
In the month between these two events, our Hadiya — our smart, motivated and beautiful daughter — was murdered in Harsh Park on Chicago’s South Side on Jan. 29.
Instead of being lost in the unfortunately never-ending headlines of Chicago violence, our daughter quickly became the picture of our country’s gun violence problem. First lady Michelle Obama attended Hadiya’s funeral, and in the year that has followed, our family joined the president as he called for a national push to end gun violence — and we watched as our elected officials in Congress failed to pass common-sense gun legislation in April. At the time, none of it seemed real.
A year has passed and we are still learning to live with our new reality. Our baby girl missed Mother’s Day, her 16th birthday, Father’s Day, school dances, Christmas — and we missed her every day in between. Sadly, this isn’t just our reality. On average, 33 people are murdered every day with guns in this country, eight of whom are children like Hadiya — and every day, 33 new families are told, “We are sorry for your loss.”
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