Hundreds mourn Hadiya Pendleton in Chicago - New York News

Hundreds mourn Hadiya Pendleton, `face of children lost` to gun violence

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First Lady Michelle Obama meets privately with Hadiya Pendleton's mother and family during Saturday's funeral service. (FOX 32 News) First Lady Michelle Obama meets privately with Hadiya Pendleton's mother and family during Saturday's funeral service. (FOX 32 News)
(AP Photo/Courtesy of Damon Stewart, File) (AP Photo/Courtesy of Damon Stewart, File)
First Lady Michelle Obama and Shatira Wilkes, cousin and Pendleton family spokesperson. First Lady Michelle Obama and Shatira Wilkes, cousin and Pendleton family spokesperson.
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Family, classmates, and politicians packed a church Saturday for a 3-hour long service in Hadiya Pendleton's honor.

Her mother shared memories while other speakers shared a message about stopping these senseless murders.

First Lady Michelle Obama and Senior White House advisor Valerie Jarrett were in attendance Saturday for the funeral of the 15-year-old who was slain last week. So were Gov. Pat Quinn, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

And while the first lady did step forward to console Hadiya Pendleton's mother alongside the casket, neither Michelle Obama nor the politicians spoke to the gathering. Instead, it was religious leaders, friends, and family including Hadiya's mother.

Cleopatra Pendleton told mourners that she tried to keep her daughter busy so she would be out of harm's way in a city plagued by gun violence. She said no mother or father should have to bear such a loss - that for those in the packed church who know what that pain is like, she was sorry.

"You don't know everything. You don't know how hard this is. And those of you who do know how hard this is, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. No mother, not father should ever have to experience this," said Cleopatra Pendleton.

Father Michael Pfleger called Hadiya Pendleton as the face of an "epidemic of violence causing funeral processions around the country." The prominent Chicago pastor told the packed church that "we must become the interrupters of funeral processions."

Dozens of friends described their favorite memories of Hadiya, ranging from her favorite foods --Chinese, Cheeseburgers, ice cream and Fig Newton's, to her hijinks in school.

"She's right here with us. She never left. She's right here with all of us, still whispering the answers in chemistry," one of her friends said.

"We were going to go to college together. I mean, she's not here with me physically, but she's here with me spiritually," another friend said.

The Crystal Elegance Majorettes with whom Hadiya performed at the inauguration, presented her jacket to her mother.

"It's gonna be hard for all of us. We love her. We miss her. We love you," one of the majorettes said.

The service included tributes from Hadiya's peers and an emotional reference to decades old struggles for civil rights.

But it was Hadiya's godfather, Damon Stuart, who's lost his 12-year-old brother 25-years-ago whose message seemed to carry the most weight.

"She is a representative not just of the people of Chicago. She is a representative of the people across this nation who have lost their lives," Stuart said.

Mrs. Obama also met privately with the Pendleton family and the president sent a hand-written note, which was printed in the program.

It read in part, "Michelle and I just wanted you to know how heartbroken we are. We know no words from us can soothe the pain, but rest assured we are praying for you, and will continue to work as hard as we can to end this senseless violence."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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