Va Tech Massacre: Heroism, Compassion Amid a Great Evil

In case you haven’t seen this, there is at least one especially poignant tale of heroism to be told among yesterday’s incident of great evil, terror, and tragedy at Virginia Tech University:

As Jews worldwide honored on Monday the memory of those who were murdered in the Holocaust, a 76-year-old survivor sacrificed his life to save his students in Monday’s shooting at Virginia Tech College that left 33 dead and over two dozen wounded. Professor Liviu Librescu, 76, threw himself in front of the shooter when the man attempted to enter his classroom. The Israeli mechanics and engineering lecturer was shot to death, “but all the students lived – because of him,” Virginia Tech student Asael Arad – also an Israeli – told Army Radio.

Several of Librescu’s other students sent e-mails to his wife, Marlena, telling of how he had blocked the gunman’s way and saved their lives, said Librescu’s son, Joe.

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

Condolences to the family of Professor Librescu and the many others who were lost or grievously wounded at the hands of an angry killer. Such heroism as the aging Holocaust survivor displayed ought not be forgotten.

And today, while the tragic wounds are so fresh and sore, there came words of compassion, as witnessed in the remarks of President George W. Bush on the Virginia Tech campus this afternoon:

In such times as this, we look for sources of strength to sustain us. And in this moment of loss, you’re finding these sources everywhere around you. These sources of strength are in this community, this college community. You have a compassionate and resilient community here at Virginia Tech. Even as yesterday’s events were still unfolding, members of this community found each other; you came together in dorm rooms and dining halls and on blogs. One recent graduate wrote this: “I don’t know most of you guys, but we’re all Hokies, which means we’re family. To all of you who are okay, I’m happy for that. For those of you who are in pain or have lost someone close to you, I’m sure you can call on anyone of us and have help any time you need it.”

These sources of strength are with your loved ones. For many of you, your first instinct was to call home and let your moms and dads know that you were okay. Others took on the terrible duty of calling the relatives of a classmate or a colleague who had been wounded or lost. I know many of you feel awfully far away from people you lean on and people you count on during difficult times. But as a dad, I can assure you, a parent’s love is never far from their child’s heart. And as you draw closer to your own families in the coming days, I ask you to reach out to those who ache for sons and daughters who will never come home.

These sources of strength are also in the faith that sustains so many of us. Across the town of Blacksburg and in towns all across America, houses of worship from every faith have opened their doors and have lifted you up in prayer. People who have never met you are praying for you; they’re praying for your friends who have fallen and who are injured. There’s a power in these prayers, real power. In times like this, we can find comfort in the grace and guidance of a loving God. As the Scriptures tell us, “Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Amen.

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