Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Virginia Tech: One Year Later

As a boy in World War II Romania, he lived in a Jewish ghetto, while his father was imprisoned in a forced labor camp. After the war, and his country was abandoned to Soviet hegemony, he became an engineer. To have his papers published anywhere but the Academy of Science in Romania, he had to work in secrecy and smuggle them out. He and his wife wanted to leave the misery of communist Romania, but the process of obtaining permission took years. Finally, in 1978, he and his family emigrated to Israel. After teaching for seven years at Tel-Aviv University, he accepted a one-year visiting professorship at Virginia Tech. One year turned to 22, as he and his family decided to resettle in Blacksburg.

But the 22nd year was the last. One year ago today, Dr. Liviu Librescu was murdered by Cho Seung Hui, who killed a total of 33 people, including himself, in a few hours of terror on the campus of Virginia Tech.

Dr. Librescu died blocking the door to his classroom, allowing his students to escape through the window, an old man who had sufferred much fending off a college boy who had sufferred much less.

And in that fight for control of the door, two world views collided. Hope despite sufferring battled resentment despite opportunity; value for life forstalled the culture of death; self-sacrifice overcame self-indulgence. In those moments, Dr. Librescu battled one final time the ugly value system that he had fought all his life. The lives he saved proclaim the goodness of his world view, and the devastation that Mr. Cho wrought bespeaks the depravity of his.

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