CHICAGO (AP) -- A Chicago honor student whose killing catapulted her into the nation's debate over gun violence is being remembered as a typical teenager.
Hundreds of mourners and dignitaries including first lady Michelle Obama packed a church on the city's South Side today for the funeral for 15-year-old Hadiya (hi-DEE'-uh) Pendleton.
One speaker after another remembered the teenager not so much as a symbol but as a best friend, an excellent student with dreams of going to college and a sometimes goofy girl with a bright smile and big personality.
To her mother, Pendleton was the daughter she tried to keep busy so she'd be beyond the reach of the seemingly endless gang violence in Chicago. Cleopatra Pendleton told mourners "No mother, no father should ever have to experience this."
The teen was shot and killed Jan. 29 as she stood with friends at a park about a mile from President Barack Obama's Chicago home. Just days before, the band majorette was among the performers during events for Obama's inauguration. Police say Pendleton was an innocent victim in a gang-related shooting.
Michelle Obama met privately with the family and some of Pendleton's friends before the service.
PHOENIX (AP) -- The self-proclaimed "America's Toughest Sheriff" has joined forces this weekend with action movie star Steven Seagal to train volunteer armed posse members to defend Phoenix-area schools against gunmen.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio (ahr-PEYE'-oh) announced the controversial plan in the wake of the Connecticut school massacre.
The exercise took place Saturday at a closed school site in a Phoenix suburb, where sheriff's SWAT members acted as shooters and teenagers played the part of students during mock scenarios involving up to three gunmen.
According to a sheriff's office, Seagal, best known for his roles in movies such as "Above the Law" and "Under Siege," was to lead training on hand-to-hand defense tactics, among other techniques, drawing from his expertise in martial arts.
Arizona Democratic House Minority Leader Chad Campbell called the plan to use Seagal as an instructor "ludicrous."
Campbell has been a vocal critic of Arpaio's school posse protection plan, complaining that using untrained, armed civilians to protect students is a bad idea and likely will only make the facilities more dangerous.
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- A new World War II exhibit starting this summer at the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum will pay tribute to the millions who fought with hopes of getting young people engaged in the war's relevance.
The Abilene center's executive director, Karl Weissenbach, says the ambitious three-year project will be directed at younger generations that often know little about the war, its significance in world history or the impact of its outcome.
The exhibit will rotate artifacts periodically from a collection of 78,000 items to reflect the advancement of U.S. forces during the war, leading to the surrender of Japan and Germany in 1945. Among the items to be displayed will be a Soviet uniform and diary that were obtained with the help of the U.S. State Department.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- In a city known for overindulgence, maybe the largest-ever Mardi Gras float was a little too much.
The 330-foot long super float built by the Krewe of Endymion had to be separated in half to make a turn during its parade Saturday. New Orleans Police Officer Shelton Carr says the float was separated and then re-attached so it could continue to roll.
The turn was only a minor hiccup. The parade actually finished its route ahead of schedule.
The float ended its journey at the Superdome, where thousands of revelers were decked out in black tie attire. It was the first major event at the venue since the Super Bowl power blackout.
The multimillion-dollar float holds more than 200 riders. The parade's celebrity grand marshal was Kelly Clarkson
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