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Hadiya Pendleton remembered by friends as anniversary of murder draws near

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January 27, 2014 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- In an ABC7 Eyewitness News exclusive, Hadiya Pendleton's friends reflect on the impact her murder has had on their lives. Wednesday marks one year since the 15-year-old girl became a national symbol of the toll gun violence has taken on Chicago.

Her friends say they could not have let January 29 come and go without celebrating the person they called their life force. They are planning on honoring Hadiya with poems, her favorite songs and lots of love.

The song "Seasons of Love" asks the question: how do you measure a year?

"Not by anger because of the situation and using it as revenge. But using it the way she would have wanted us to, by loving each other and making it more peaceful-- something she did on a daily basis," said Amber Mitchell, Hadiya's friend.
Mitchell had a sleepover with Hadiya Pendleton the weekend before she was killed, and the sophomore honor student left some items at her home. Mitchell has those precious keepsakes in a box by her bed. Inside, Hadiya's toothbrush, an mp3 player and a journal she writes in every day.

"I say good morning, how you doing. I am going to school and meet you at my locker where we always used to meet and have a good day," said Mitchell.

Hadiya was with a group of friends at a park near King High School when a gunman fired shots at the group.

"I ran to Subway to call 911," said Kyra Caldwell. "It was heartbreaking, it was shocking. I didn't expect it would happen."

Kyra was with Hadiya when she was killed. The past 12 months have been very difficult.

"I look at her pictures and all her videos a lot. She was just really funny. I miss her spirit, she was always happy," said Caldwell.

Caldwell says it's especially hard because they were often mistaken for twin sisters. She says she talks to Hadiya every day, mostly through prayer and text messages.

"Hey twin, miss you today-- I text her when I miss her a lot," said Caldwell. "It's hard to accept the fact that she's not here."

The 15-year-old had just performed at the inauguration of President Barack Obama and her friends say she was inspired by the historical moment.

"She said, 'Can I tell you a secret? I am going to be president,'" said Mitchell.

To honor her memory, Mitchell is planning on sharing a poem she wrote during an assembly on Wednesday. It's called 97-13, Hadiya's birth and death year.

"Six feet under, fallen angel coming through," said Mitchell. "I love you Hadiya, you mean the world to me."

Mitchell will be singing at the school memorial service on Wednesday and the marching band will perform a tribute. Hadiya was a majorette, and students will be encouraged to write down their memories of Hadiya.

They are also planning to release balloons at the site where she was killed.



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