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Heroes You Should Know: Liviu Librescu

 “If you are limited, then you miss the freedom. And I—I would like to be fluid. I would like to be free as a bird and fly everywhere.”  -Liviu Librescu Liviu Librescu (August 18, 1930 – April 16, 2007) had faced death many times before his final hour of life on the campus of Virginia Tech University.  He had survived the Nazis, the Holocaust, and relocation to a labor camp.  And he had endured over thirty years of Communist oppression in his native Romania.  In between, he’d earned a Ph.D., and become a scientist and research professor in the area of aeroelasticity and aerodynamics.   Because he refused to swear allegiance to the Communist party, Librescu’s career stalled.  But in 1978 he was finally allowed to immigrate to Israel with his wife and two sons, where he continued to teach Aeronautical and Mechanical Engineering.  In 1985, Dr. Librescu left for Blacksburg, Virginia on a sabbatical, accepting a teaching position in Engineering Science and Mechanics at Virginia Tech University.  He would eventually decide to make this move permanent, and for over two decades his professional life continued to blossom.  Dr. Librescu lectured, conducted research, had hundreds of articles published, along with scores of book chapters and monographs, and served on the editorial boards of numerous scientific journals.  He was reknowned internationally, and was a beloved teacher and a devoted family man.  On the morning of April 16, 2007, Seung-Hui Cho entered the engineering building where Dr. Librescu was lecturing.  As gunfire and screaming echoed in the hallway, Librescu ordered the students to exit the room through windows.  Meanwhile, he headed for the door, and threw his body in front of it just as the gunman was attempting to enter.  By blocking the entrance to the classroom, the professor kept Cho out long enough for twenty-two of his twenty-three students to escape without harm.  Librescu was shot five times in the process, and died on the scene. Ironically, the Virginia Tech massacre occurred on Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah).  But perhaps there could be no more fitting day for Librescu’s martyrdom. Dr. Liviu Librescu is a model of courage, of industriousness, of generosity, of love---worthy of study and emulation.  He lived a life of significance, which his death only confirmed.   He is a hero you should know.

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