Family and friends remember Va. Tech victims

Paige Eckerd, right, and Kristy McCain, center, look skyward at released balloons at the start of a Run in Remembrance on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Va. on Saturday, April 14, 2012. The 3.2-mile Run in Remembrance for the victims of the April 16, 2007, Virginia Tech shootings had about 6,500 participants registered in advance for the event in honor of the 32 killed in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. (AP Photo/The Roanoke Times, Matt Gentry)

Andrew Mollenbeck,

CENTREVILLE, Va. – Five years ago, a student at Virginia Tech went on the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history, and one local family wants to keep the memory of their daughter, one of the victims, alive.

Erin Peterson of Northern Virginia was among the 32 killed in the shooting. Her mother, Celeste Peterson, gathered family and friends at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Centreville to celebrate Erin on the 5th anniversary of the attack. Each year a scholarship is given in Erin’s honor.

“We started that so that we could honor each student that day who lost their life,” Peterson says. “So we give away a scholarship in Erin’s name.”

While remembering Erin, the service also honored Reema Samaha, who intended to study French and international studies, with its Legacy Initiative.

“It is very hard,” says Peterson. “You will see me do a lot of crying because I miss her so very much.”

But Peterson doesn’t have to remember alone. She describes the event as a pep rally.

“I have people around me telling me,” Peterson says, “‘You can do this, you can stand, we got you, you’re not going to break. You may bend, but you’re not going to break.'”

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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