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The Statesman

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The Statesman

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    Book of James

    From the devastation of the Virginia Tech tragedy came a powerful lesson.’ It is not a lesson in gun rights or arms control, nor was it a lesson in mental health.’ It is a lesson in the bravery that still exists in humanity; courage has hidden itself so well in this day and age that it takes a disaster on the scale of the worst school shooting in history to show itself.’ Professor Liviu Librescu, your heroic acts of April 16, 2007, has put a face on the force of good in the battle against evil.

    Liviu Librescu endured one of the worst evils of the 20th century as a young person.’ He is a man who was well aware of evil- he has seen it in the Germans of World War II, and he has seen it again in that crazed man who killed him and so many other people just weeks ago.

    This entry is not intended to minimize the damage of Virginia Tech students and faculty.’ As a college student myself, I suspect my reaction would have been the same as my peers in Virginia.’ I suspect I would have ducked for cover at the sound of gunshots, moving for the window as quickly as possible.’ But after reading of the sacrifice that Librescu made so that others could live, I feel I need to thoroughly examine my impulse to duck and hide.’ One day, I hope to be the man who fights directly against the worst of the world, regardless of the consequences, as Librescu did.

    One conservative columnist wrote that the students’ reaction was endemic of the larger issue that plagues our society.’ He wrote that it is a shame that this society classifies young people simultaneously as children in need of protection, as in the case of college students at large, and as men and women, in the case of soldiers. Rather than view this as children-on-children violence, this columnist wrote, we have to address this as a grown-up issue.’ And that means standing up and acting like adults when the time calls for it.

    I do not endorse this viewpoint and its callous delivery.’ Regardless of age, the students and faculty who were targeted at Virginia Tech reacted as you would expect anyone to react when confronted by a crazy gunman.’ I do think, however, that this columnist’s viewpoint deserves careful consideration on a personal level.’ There is a difference between the man who hid under the table, waiting for the gunfire to end and hoping to survive, and the man who blocks the door, ushering the other people out of the room and dying as a consequence.’ The man who hides under the table did nothing shameful- he acted out of fear and we can all relate to that.’ But the man who sacrifices his life so that others may live needs to be recognized a hero whom we should all learn from.

    I think it is no coincidence that the greatest hero of that day was a member of the Greatest Generation and a Holocaust survivor.’ I fancy that things were different back then.’ People were taught about sacrifice and struggle.’ They lived through the greatest struggle for society in modern history, a true fight between Democracy and Fascism.’ Men and women like Librescu truly know the value of human life and that certain things are fighting and dying for.

    We’ve lost some of that clarity over the years, it would seem.’ This story is reminiscent of the people aboard Flight 93 on 9/11, the citizens who rose against the hijackers, potentially sparing the destruction of the White House.’ These are the stories that need to define our culture.’ These are Americans at their best, and we need to tell their stories with pride.’ I feel nothing but sympathy for the families of the victims of Virginia Tech and for those who died that day.’ And I hope that the nation takes away this lesson and this lesson alone: that we need to rise up against evil, against tyranny, and against all odds, without fear.’ In the immortal words of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, ‘This great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper…. Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.’

    It is time to stop talking about the minutiae of situations, time to stop talking down to this nation’s young people.’ It is time to once again build a nation of heroes, and this comes first by telling their stories.

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