Hundreds of mourners and dignitaries including first lady Michelle Obama packed the funeral Saturday for a Chicago honor student Hadiya Pendleton whose killing catapulted her into the nation’s debate over gun violence. Some of Illinois’ most recognizable politicians and clergy were in attendance, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
But Pendleton’s family said they didn’t want the day to be about politics. None of the dignitaries spoke during the service. Instead, close friends, holding back tears, got up to remember her.
Waiting in line for the ceremony was Hadiya’s band from King College Prep, who wore their yellow and black majorette coats in honor of her.
A glossy, eight-page funeral program included photos of Pendleton and details about her life, including her favorite foods — cheeseburgers, fig cookies, Chinese and ice cream — and the numerous school and church organizations she was involved in. The program also included a copy of a handwritten note from President Obama addressed to the girl’s family.
“We know that no words from us can soothe the pain, but rest assured that we are praying for you, and that we will continue to work as hard as we can to end this senseless violence,” it said.
Close family and friends were given orange wristbands so that they could enter through a shorter security line into the church. Although many are mourning her death, there is progress being made in the case of finding her killer, according to CBS Local Chicago.