WASHINGTON–The parents of slain Chicago teen Hadiya Pendleton will attend President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday as guests of First Lady Michelle Obama, sitting in her box in the House chamber for the speech.
Mrs. Obama, White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, all South Siders, traveled to Chicago on Saturday to attend the funeral for the 15-year-old, shot to death in a park about a mile from the Obama family Kenwood home.
I reported on Sunday that Cleopatra Pendleton will be at the State of the Union; on Monday a White House spokesman confirmed that Nathaniel Pendleton, Hadiya’s father, will also be at sitting in Mrs. Obama’s box.
On Sunday I asked Jarret about their visit home for the funeral. “It’s very personal for us,” she replied.
“The first lady and I grew up in Chicago and before we moved to D.C., we raised our daughters about a mile from where Hadiya was killed. Chicago still feels like home and our hearts just goes out to the Pendleton family who raised an amazing daughter and we thought it would be important to demonstrate the grief that we’re feeling in person.
“It’s a reminder at a very personal level about what each of these children mean to us. We may not have known her, but she’s feels like a part of our family, too.
“There have been so many tragic deaths around the country and the individual deaths don’t receive the attention that the tragedies in Aurora or Newtown receive, but the impact it has on the family involved is just as devastating.”