Stop To Remember Our True Heroes


Stop To Remember Our True Heroes


By: Kyle Thomas
Posted: 4/24/07
The terrible tragedy which took place last week at Virginia Tech has stunned the nation. The day a tormented madman decided to take the lives of 32 innocent individuals was horrid, disgusting, gut wrenching and a host of other words, which escape my mind right now.

But in the midst of such a horrendous event, - one in which pure evil was on display - this nation was introduced to a slew of new heroes. All too often in out commercial society, we choose to worship the wrong type of hero. Most of us at one time or another have aspired to be a famous athlete or actor, and maybe we've even called them "heroes." But every time a tragedy of this magnitude occurs, one really has to stop and think about how silly - or how downright stupid it is - to refer to these commercial icons as heroes.

Liviu Librescu, a 76-year-old professor, was killed last Monday. By all accounts, Professor Librescu saved the lives of many of the students in his classroom when he, in reckless disregard for his own life, barricaded the door to his classroom with his own body. As a direct result of his actions, only two of his students were injured. No one in the classroom was killed - except Professor Librescu.

Librescu, a Romanian-born Holocaust survivor, never had an easy life. Yet despite all of the challenges he faced, he still managed to receive advanced degrees in engineering. He was an internationally-known leader in the field of aeronautical engineering. He was also the son of two.

It is a shame that true heroes like Librescu will never get the recognition they deserve. Certainly he will be forever memorialized on the campus of Virginia Tech. They will build him a stature, or name a building after him. But only a few months from now, we'll all go back to calling those silly athletes heroes - and so life will go on.

Now that this country is an established institution, it seems like there is nary a chance for true national heroes to emerge. There are no more British soldiers to defeat and no one else can be the first man on the moon. The only thing really left is responding to tragedy.

Think back to the days, weeks and months that followed Sept. 11. Our television screens were plastered with pictures and family videos of firemen and policemen who ran 80 flights of stairs while bystanders and innocent people were running down. How many of those heroes can you name?

When Timothy McVeigh bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, all of us again were bombarded with tales of heroic acts. Yet, the only names we remember 12 years later are that of McVeigh and his accomplice, Terry Nichols.

Years from now - or maybe just days from now - some other tragic event that we cant yet imagine will occur. We wont remember those heroes either.

Most people want to be famous - so how can someone who attains fame be a hero? I know of no one who dreams of dying in a classroom so that others can live. Can a hero really be someone that does something we'd all love to do? A hero should be someone that does something that none of us would ever want to do.

Random House Dictionary lists the definition of hero as "a person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal." That definition is not specific enough. There is an immeasurable leap between a role model and a hero. Older brothers are models to their younger brothers. Teachers are models for their students. But no matter how great their contributions are, they don't deserve the "hero" moniker.

When professional sports franchises win their respective championships, entire cities come out for a parade. When the city has been without a championship title for a long time, the team is referred to in the media as heroes. The 2004 Red Sox were heroes.

Only, they weren't. They didn't risk their lives to win that championship. Never did they face tremendous adversity to attain their goal.

Professor Librescu gave his life so that every student who was in his classroom could live. A gunman shot him to death through a door that only he was keeping closed. Librescu is a hero, and to demerit the term by using it so often is to do a disservice to his memory.


Original Source:<a href=>The Daily Campus - April 24, 2007</a>


Kyle Thomas


The Daily Campus




Sara AA Hood


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Kyle Thomas, “Stop To Remember Our True Heroes,” The April 16 Archive, accessed June 24, 2024,