Like millions of other people, I'm compulsively checking Google for new information on yesterday's massacre, trying to understand what happened. I am thinking of the dead, the wounded, and their families. I'm angry at the senselessness of it all, but also sad for Seung-Hui Cho, a young man apparently so immersed in his illness that he wasn't capable of reaching out for the help he needed. I'm even more sorrowful for his family, in seclusion and dealing with grief for the loss of their own son, grief for his victims, and shame at what he did. Probably more than anybody else, they are wondering whether they couldn't have done something to stop this.
And I am thinking of the Korean and Korean-American communities among us, hoping that the ugliness of this disaster won't spill over to affect them during a time when people are frightened, upset, and looking for someone to blame.
All the stories at the Newsday site are heartbreaking reminders of lives that ended too soon, but the story of Prof. Librescu is especially powerful, so I've extracted it verbatim here.
Librescu, an Israeli engineering and math lecturer, was known for his research, but his son said the Holocaust survivor will be remembered as a hero for protecting students as the gunman tried to enter his classroom.
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.
After surviving the Nazi killings, Librescu escaped from Communist Romania and made his way to the United States before he was killed in Monday's massacre, which coincided with Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Librescu's son, Joe, said his father's students sent e-mails detailing how the professor saved their lives by blocking the doorway of his classroom from the approaching gunman before Librescu was fatally shot.
"My father blocked the doorway with his body and asked the students to flee," Librescu's son, Joe Librescu, said Tuesday in a telephone interview from his home outside.
That, surely, is a noble death.