Evolving Thoughts

A VT hero

Professor Liviu Librescu, 76, a survivor of the Holocaust and renowned scientist, died in the massacre trying to block the gunman’s entrance into the room, and in so doing probably saved some of the students who were able to leave via the window of the second story room.


  1. #1 Josh
    April 17, 2007

    Best wishes to his family and friends. They, and the world, have lost a valuable person.

  2. #2 Ribozyme
    April 17, 2007

    Now, these are the real heroes, the ones that risk (and, in this case, lose) their lives saving other people, not killing supposed enemies (or send somebody else to kill enemies).

  3. #3 Susan Silberstein
    April 17, 2007

    Can you imagine, he probably woke up some mornings and thought to himself, “I’m safe, it was only another bad dream.” Then yesterday he went to work…

  4. #4 Dawn
    April 17, 2007

    Thanks for posting this, John. To use a universal truth: greater love has no man than he who lays down his life for another.

    This man truly loved his students, to do this. They are the true heroes, those who do this. As a VT parent, although my child was not physically injured, I am very grateful for those at the University who love their students this much.

  5. #5 sharon
    April 17, 2007

    Here in the U.S. (and any where else is relevant), they have tornado drills, and teach people what to do. Lie on the floor in fetal position, hands over neck). Never, however, have they taught me or my kids what to do in case of a terrorist emergency. I’ve heard two pieces of advice from law enforcement and media, to #1 “Roll” as in “Let’s Roll” flight 93… where several attempt to physically confront their attacker/s and to this day highly praised for their bravery. (Here’s somebody, I presume, even in denial of the “Let’s ROll” or hijacking on 911 :-/ (vialls.com/roboplanes/cleveland1.html) — oh well, I believe they must’ve took their assailants on, I’m a sucker for media ‘lies’. However, it’s precisely the opposite of what people are taught to do in armed robbery or hostage situations, to #2 comply with demands.

    Which is it? This was asked yesterday by a Professor of mine, who stands over six ft. and at least 200+ lb — “how?” He’d have gotten up and cracked a chair over the guy. (Or would he have? Works in theory… but, in reality? HOw did 12 in 15 students get mowed down in just one class room?!” in matter of seconds. Just heard story on news by one brave fellow who was in one of the VT classes. 12 of 15 were injured in seconds!) There is a lot of anger and criticism of Virginia Tech for not doing enough, but facts are that guy was “in control” and did exactly what he was intent to do… the question is not how Virginia Tech did, but perhaps the lack of the ability for the students to know what to do. I wouldn’t. I ask myself if in the situation, “what” would one properly do. Currently, there seems to be two approaches, to revolt, to comply, both contradictory. I come to the conclusion if put in the situation students at VT were, “I really don’t know.”

  6. #6 Charlene
    April 18, 2007

    Sharon, I think the problem is that they’re looking at two completely separate problems. The hostage-taker or bank robber is probably on edge, nervous, doesn’t particularly *want* to kill anyone, but may do so if he’s attacked. The terrorist or spree killer is going to kill you no matter what you do.

    The time frame is the big enemy with these killers. So many people assume you have time to do something heroic like go bash the guy on the head with the chair. They *ENORMOUSLY* overestimate the time a victim has to respond. It wasn’t ten seconds or fifteen – it was more like one and a half. Probably half those kids hadn’t even figured out what was happening – probably some movement to the side of their field of vision was all they saw. And to know instantly that the guy was a spree killer? Half of them probably didn’t even see the gun before they died.

    If someone had tried to go find a chair, go to it, pick it up, and bash the guy on the head, they wouldn’t have gotten to the chair before they were dead – *that*’s how fast it was.

  7. #7 Ian H Spedding FCD
    April 18, 2007

    Although there is no way to control how the use of words evolves, ‘hero’ should really be reserved for extraordinary acts of bravery like this not the courage that most ordinary people are capable of if circumstances require.

  8. #8 John Wilkins
    April 18, 2007

    This was a courageous act of self-sacrifice for people he had a charge to educate, and who took it as a duty to protect their lives. I think this guy defines “hero”.

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