Liviu Librescu: A Name To Remember

Liviu Librescu.  The more I hear about this man the more my heart breaks for humanity at his loss.  I would have been better to have known him, I think.

Librescu was the professor who barracaded the door with his own body so his students could flee the gunmen at the Virginia Tech massacre on Monday morning.  A 76 year old holocaust survivor, he was gunned down on Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day.  And his final act was to embody the mantra known worldwide: Never Again

From Newsday:

Librescu was in his classroom when shots rang out from next door. He rushed to the door and held it shut. His students kicked out the windows and most jumped to the bushes below.

“I saw your husband still standing there,” one student wrote. “He was holding the door closed and looking over his shoulder to make sure everybody else was safe. It was the bravest thing I have ever seen. ”

Never again will we stand by and watch as others are harmed or killed.  This was said by multitudes in condemnation after the Jewish Holocaust, yet seldom has it been an idea actually lived by, let alone died for.  The Armenian Genocide of twenty years previous had also been condemned, but so much of the “never again” mantra is just empty gesture by those ashamed of their collective inaction to prevent such tragedies–a statement by outsiders that “we will do better next time.”  Yet we do not.   

Liviu Librescu saved unknown numbers of students by standing alone against a door, knowing death waited for him on the other side.  And he was proof of what we can be as a people.  As the human race.  Should we choose a truly benevolent path. 

With the current situation in Darfur, we must rise as one and make our leaders listen. 

(April 2, 2004) Ten years ago, the world abandoned Rwanda’s Tutsis to genocide.  800,000 people were murdered by their Hutu neighbors.  Although a heroic Canadian general, Lt. Gen. Roméo Dallaire requested reinforcements for the 2,500 United Nations peacekeepers in
Rwanda and a mandate to stop the genocide, the U.N. Security Council instead voted to withdraw U.N. troops.  We watched and washed our hands.

Never Again Rwanda

Never Again Armenia

And so today I cry, yes, cry, for Liviu Librescu, who taught not only by word but by deed as well.  And I pray we will learn to protect each other before the immediacy of this latest act of mass murder slips from our o-so-short attention spans and we go back to our self-centered ways. 

As USATODAY put it,

It is not too soon to learn lesson No. 1 from the pathetic international response to Darfur and Rwanda: Despite the almost ritualistic pledge of “never again,” no coherent international system or process is in place for responding to genocide and other atrocities. What does exist is chaotic and futile finger-pointing, while the slaughter goes on.

Act today.  Remember Liviu Librescu, and the conviction that made him give his life to save others.  May we all learn to live so well.  Even if it’s one hero at a time.

6 thoughts on “Liviu Librescu: A Name To Remember

  1. While many of my fellow U. S. citizens bemoan immigrants coming here, thank God or Karma or whatever you believe in that THIS one chose to, for he saved many lives that day. As I read the above, I wonder – would I choose to and have the strength to do the same in that situation. I’d better not hear that he was 76 and had lived long enough anyway because I’ll slap whoever says that six ways to Sunday. Life is precious from the first second to the last. I have held the hand of many leaving this life. I digress. Back to Mr. Libriscu. I hope there is some recognition given to this man – perhaps a scholarship in his name – to memorialize his extreme sacrfice and love for his students and fellow man. I’m sure what he survived in the Holocaust gave him a respect for life that those of us who haven’t endured that suffering can never understand. And those who say the holocaust didn’t happen, give Mel Gibson’s dad a call – you have a lot in common.

  2. My heart cries for Liviu Lebrescu and his family. The day of the massacre, no one mentioned that he is an Israeli citizen and that his body was flown to Israel for burial. At least they did mention that he was a Holocaust survivor.
    A true hero. May he finally rest in peace!
    Condolences to his entire family.

    Ann in Phoenix.

  3. May The Lord bless this man and accept him into heaven, where he can rest in peace and comfort and await the day that he is reunited with the people he has left behind.

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