Tuesday was a special day.
It was a day so unusual that we hadn’t seen one like it in nearly 100 years. People in shorts did sprints along the lake shore. Cyclists ruled the roads. And young people spilled from schools with carefree ease.
It was the kind of bonus day that Chicagoans don’t expect to see until March at the earliest. So it is not surprising that Hadiya Pendleton and her friends would have headed for the park just blocks away from King College Prep on the South Side after leaving school.
Yet for people who live in neighborhoods that have been under siege by ruthless armed gang-members, Tuesday was a time to worry and wait. For the family of Hadiya, the day brought the worst news imaginable.
Hadiya, 15, a King College Prep student, was fatally shot in the back, and a 16-year-old friend was wounded in the leg at 2:30 p.m. only blocks from what is supposed to be a safe haven for our children: a public school.
And once again, in the blink of an eye, another child has been taken away from us while that child is doing what all children should be able to do.
Hadiya was full of life.
She was a majorette for a celebrated dance team. As a volleyball player, Hadiya was engaged in the activities that are designed to keep young people safe and out of harm’s way.
And she attended President Barack Obama’s second inauguration just last week.
But like the 20 children who were killed in one fell swoop in Newtown, Hadiya became a victim of an armed assassin who took her life with reckless abandon.
According to witnesses, the yet unidentified shooter fired into the crowd of young people who had taken shelter under a canopy in the park, then drove away.
As is often the case, Hadiya was not the intended target.
She was just a 15-year-old girl who was living her life.
She was just a 15-year-old girl who had dreams of going to prom and to college.
She was just a 15-year-old girl who lived on the South Side of the city where many families live in Greystones and Brownstones and have not abandoned the city for suburbia.
She was just a 15-year-old girl who wanted to enjoy the miracle of a 60-degree day in January.
Hadiya was just a girl who wanted to enjoy the boundless possibilities of a life. That her life could be taken in such a ruthless and careless manner should make us all want to take to the streets.
The wanton act that took Hadiya from her family, from her classmates, from our city is as cold as the coldest day we could imagine.
And again, we ask: When is enough, enough.
Tuesday was a miraculous day for many. Yet for the people who live in neighborhoods under siege by gangs and reckless shooters, today was just another day to worry.