An Act Of Heroism Essay

An Act Of Heroism

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            April 16, 2007 was one of the darkest days in American history for this was the day of the bloody Virginia Tech Massacre that took the lives of 32 students of the once peaceful and quiet university. As victims began lining the dormitory rooms, hallways, classrooms, and campus grounds, a number of heroes emerged from the chaos to try and bring aid to those who needed it the most. First and foremost in the minds of these heroes was to save as many lives as possible, even it is meant giving up their own lives in the process. Of all the heroes that surfaced that day, one name seems to stand tall above the rest. That name is Liviu Librescu — a teacher, mentor, friend to the students. A holocaust survivor to the rest of the people who knew him.

            The life of Prof. Librescu was marked with his battle for survival during World War 2. As a young Jewish – Romanian, he and his family were rounded up and taken to the labor camp in the city of Foscani. Through sheer luck, he managed to survive the camp and was repatriated to Romania where he established the foundations of a stellar scientific career. Through a series of political machinations, he managed to get out of Romania by successfully migrating to Israel in 1978 before finally moving to the United States of America and settling down in Virginia where he was a student at the at the ill-fated university from 1989-1994 before finally becoming a professor at the same educational institution in 1995.

            Students at Virginia Tech remember him fondly and say that he was the kind of man who would put himself in the direct path of danger if it meant saving the lives of others. The students whose lives he saved that day will never forget his self-sacrificing act. As an engineering professor at the university, he is fondly remember for being an amicable person who did not have the air of an important person about him.

            The events at it transpired inside the classroom that day are a bit fuzzy due to the panic gripping everyone as the crazed gunman went on a shooting spree within the campus and the adjoining buildings. What is clear to the students who were in Room 204 of the Norris Hall that day is that the 76-year-old professor did his best, with the aid of some students to help them get to safety before the gunman, a student named Seung-Hui Cho, could break into the classroom and riddle everyone inside with bullets.  Maybe it was his experience during the holocaust that made instinctively took over as he instructed his students to get to safety while he held the attacker at bay as best he could. Instructing the students to climb out the 2nd storey window of the classroom, the highly respected professor turned himself into a human shield as he barricaded the door with his own body. He took 5 gunshots to the body before the gunman shot him dead with a single bullet to the head. It was because of this act of selflessness that there were lesser casualties than there should have been on that fateful day in Norris Hall.

            It is ironic that Professor Librescu died  a day after the United States commemorated the Holocaust Remembrance Day. He was a man who survived so much in life and did not allow his advanced age to stop him from further making his mark in the field of aerospace structures as his works continued to be published in various engineering journals. Hailed as hero both in Israel and the United States, his death was met with disbelief and regret by those whose lives he touched. He was given a Heroes Memorial Service in the United States by Virginia Tech before his remains were flown to Israel for burial. In his home country of Romania, the government commemorated his life by awarding him the countries highest honors in recognition of his remarkable scientific career and heroism in life.

Work Cited

“Heroes of the Virginia Tech Massacre”. CNN 23 April 2007. 1 November 2007. <>.

“Holocaust Survivor Who Died Defending Virginia Tech Students Buried in Israel”. Voice of America. 20 April 2007. 2 November 2007. <>.

“Liviu Librescu: Holocaust Survivor Blocked Shooter, Letting Students Flee”. The Roanoke Times. 18 April 2007. 3 November 2007. <>.

“Virginia Tech Shootings: Liviu Librescu”. The Washington Post. 2007. 4 November 2007. <>.

“Israeli Lecturer Died Shielding Virginia Tech Students From Gunman”. Haaretz Service and Agencies. 17 April 2007. 5 November 2007.


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