"For the sake of God, there go I"
I watched the funeral of Hadiya Pendleton today on television. It made you cry, that such a good life, a life with such potential for greatness was loss so early. Sweet sixteen she never knew. She lived well, touching many along her way. But she lived short unnecessarily. From those who spoke at the funeral, she made a valuable and lasting impression on those she came in contact with. Hadiya was spot on. Her mother kept her busy. By all accounts she was a wonderful young lady with promise and potential. She had great parents, she went to a great school, she was Christian centered. She took her friends to church.
Her home church was too small for her over sized life celebration. The funeral was folksy and represented her friends, family and activity. Her young friends, spoke fondly of her, with love in their heart and with tenderness. They spoke truth, they asked why my friend, and in essence said enough. They were all too young to be giving remarks at a funeral, it was probably the first for many of them.
The First Lady, Michelle Obama came. Valerie Jarrett the President’s most trusted aid came. Arnie Duncan the School Czar came. The Washington crew all lived at one time just blocks away from the Pendleton’s. They all knew the park where she was murdered , first hand. They identified with the young lady, the parents and the school. Michelle could have been Hadiya. Her children could be Hadiya. A world away within just a few blocks. “For the sake of God there go I.” Mr. Duncan knew as head of the Chicago Public Schools what murder of a teen youth felt like, first hand. It is the hardest part of the job. The Washington representatives were better than the President. They came home to a place where they grew up and knew well. They knew the neighborhood and the life of Hadiya because theirs were so alike. Chicago cried loud for President Obama. The major newspaper editorials both wrote on why the President should attend the funeral. The real cry, however, is Mr. President will you please pay attention to youth violence in your hometown.
It was a personal funeral not a political one was clearly stated by the minister. The politicos were not allowed to speak. But was a resounding opportunity missed? To have The First Lady in the room, the Mayor of the City, The Governor of the State, the Czar of Education, the trusted Assistant to the President, did they perhaps have words of wisdom. What would they say to a place they once called home? What would the First Mother say as one who grew up as a teen just blocks away? What would they say to the city of big shoulders where murder on the streets, by the children, is out of control. Could they have been challenged on the ills that the urban African American child faces on a daily bases. Our children live in fear performing the simple things of life - attending school.
Could someone from the pulpit have addressed the political figures to say what do we do now? What is the answer? What should the focus be? How many more? Where are the resources? Is Hadiya's life the tipping point? Is this the last teen funeral? Mrs. Pendleton, said no one should have to go through this. She is right.
I hope Hadiya Pendleton’s life is not in vain and that she and the hundreds of other young lives that have been lost for no reason, bring an end to the nonsense.