A victim of the Virginia Tech shootings, with close family ties to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, was honored and remembered during a home dedication ceremony in New Orleans Monday.
Leslie Sherman, 20, loved history, enjoyed traveling and took great pleasure helping others. She spent last Thanksgiving break on a Katrina volunteer team helping rebuild New Orleans.
Less than six months later, she was among 32 people shot to death on the Virginia Tech campus.
Monday morning, family, friends and fellow Hokies honored her gift of giving.
A New Orleans style celebration kicked off the home dedication ceremony. While Virginia Tech students formed a second line in the backyard, Leslie Sherman's mom paused to view a slide show honoring her daughter.
Virginia Tech began sending student volunteers to New Orleans two years ago.
"Virginia Tech came back and Leslie was with them," said Kathy Powers, as she began the memorial service.
They gathered to remember Leslie Sherman and Ryan Clark. Both volunteered, both were later victims of a crazed gunman.
"We want to dedicate this house today to the loving memory of Ryan and Leslie, with thanksgiving for all that they have done," said Rev. Ken Bowman.
Friends and family paused to remember. They planted trees. They dedicated memorial stones.
"Thanks to these families that came," said a smiling, elderly woman. It was Montreal Favre's home that Leslie and Ryan had a hand in helping rebuild.
"Their living was not in vain. God called and they came. And they served. And that was His mission and that was their mission too," said Favre.
Hugs and tears accompany remembrance. Loved ones placed flowers near the memorials.
"She was loved by everybody. And she was just always, always there for you if you needed help," said Meryl Sherman, Leslie's grandmother.
Leslie's mother sees the outpouring of love as confirmation, not only of her daughter's generous giving, but confirmation of abundant caring and kindness, despite tragic circumstances.
"It's a little hard to explain. But I've always known that people are nice. But now it's confirmed. That there are a lot of wonderful people out there," said Holly Adams.
Leslie's father said the tribute was very fitting.
"I think it's the ultimate way to honor these kids that did what they did. And to see that it continues. And I believe it spurred it on a little bit, that they got some more folks to come down," said Tony Sherman.
Leslie Sherman was a history buff and honors student. Because of her love for colonial history, her memorial service was held in the church George Washington often attended. She is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
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