The kindergarten class at Annunciata School on Chicago’s Far South Side walked in beaming with smiles, excited about graduation and performing for friends and family.
It wasn’t your typical audience. Of course there were moms, dads, and relatives. And more than a dozen Chicago police officers, including Superintendent Eddie Johnson and First Deputy John Escalante. They were all there to cheer on Alejandro Valadez, Jr.
Alejandro’s police family has been there since his dad Alex Valadez was shot and killed in the line of duty in 2009, just three months before he was born.
Today as he graduated kindergarten Superintendent Johnson stepped forward to fill his dad’s shoes.
“We just want everyone to know that being a police officer is a very difficult job and sometimes we have to make the ultimate sacrifice and Alex Sr. did that, and we just want Alejandro and Christina to know, and everyone to know, that we will never forget,” Johnson said.
Alejandro never met his dad, but today proudly wears his uniform, cheered on by members of the department as a police helicopter flies overhead.
His dad’s partner and his godfather were there to celebrate and remember the good friend lost to gun violence, but found in Alejandro’s face every day.