19 April 2007

He Knew The Face Of Evil

Liviu Librescu first saw the face of evil when he was 10 years old.

Born in 1930 to a Jewish family in Romania, his homeland was overrun by Nazi Germany in 1940 and soon became a part of the Axis powers. Romanian Jews, already suffering under harsh anti-Semitic laws in place, were rounded up and sent to concentration camps. His father was one of those swept up, but he and his mother managed to escape this fate. Fortunately, his father survived the concentration camp.

Between 280,000 and 380,000 Jews were killed in Romania during the dark days of World War Two.

Liviu Librescu was fourteen years old when the war ended. But the end of the war did not bring an end to the evil.

Romania suffered under the Communist yoke for 45 more years until the collapse of the Soviet Union. Liviu Librescu was able to secure freedom for himself and his family in 1978 after appealing directly to the Israeli government. In 1985 he moved to Virginia to teach engineering classes at Virginia Tech.

Liviu Librescu taught at Virginia Tech for 20 years and had an international reputation for his work in aeronautical engineering.

"His research has enabled better aircraft, superior composite materials, and more robust aerospace structures," said Ishwar K. Puri, the head of the engineering science and mechanics department.

On April 16, 2007 Liviu Librescu once more saw the familiar face of evil. That was the day a crazed killer went on a rampage and ended the lives of 32 innocent people before killing himself as well.

Liviu Librescu did not run from the face of evil. He ran towards it.

Librescu's son, Joe, tells of his father's actions as described in emails sent by his students, describing how the professor saved their lives by barricading the classroom door against the approaching gunman.

"My father blocked the doorway with his body and asked the students to flee," Joe Librescu said Tuesday in a telephone interview from his home outside of Tel Aviv. "Students started opening windows and jumping out."

Liviu Librescu made his escape upon angel's wings.

Liviu Librescue was one of the 32 victims. He gave his life so that others might live.

Yit-gadal v'yit-kadash sh'mey raba, b'alma di v'ra hirutey, vyam-lih mal-hutey b'ha-yey-hon uv'yomey-hon uv'ha-yey d'hol beyt yisrael ba-agala u-vizman kariv, v'imru amen.

Y'hey sh'mey raba m'varah l'alam ul'almey alma-ya.

Yit-barah v'yish-tabah v'yit-pa-ar v'yit-romam v'yit-na-sey v'yit-hadar v'yit-aleh v'yit-halal sh'mey d'kud-sha, b'rih hu, leyla* min kol bir-hata v'shi-rata tush-b'hata v'ne-hemata da-amiran b'alma, v imru amen.

Y'hey sh'lama raba min sh'ma-ya, v'ha-yim aleynu v'al kol yisrael, vimru amen.

Oseh shalom bim-romav, hu ya-aseh shalom aleynu v'al kol yisrael, v'imru amen.

(The Kaddish is an old Jewish hymn of praise to God. It is recited at funerals and in memory of the departed.)

Rest in peace, Liviu Librescu. Your name will always be remembered here. The world is a better place because of you. The world is a poorer place at your passing.

Staff Photo, Virginia Tech


Hammer said...

A true hero. I hope he is officially recognized.

Larry said...

I could not finish writing this post all at once. I had to come back to it several times.
I still cannot read all of it at once.
It's a story of uncommon courage, and this is my poor attempt to tell it as well as I can.
I pray that I never can read it all at once.