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UNLIKELY HERO

Story ID:1982
Written by:Kathe M. Campbell (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Virginia Tech Virginia USA
Year:2007
Person:The Professor Hero
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Unlikely Hero
by Kathe Campbell

It's said, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." That goes to the human spirit, for it's often strongest during times of great tragedy.

In light of the ghastly Virginia Tech massacre I got to thinking about all the guns I still own, guns that keep me protected -from what! A bear, a wolf gone berzerk, a moose protecting her infant, a weird neighbor, or an escaped murderer from the state prison, 45 miles away? Not likely. My dear neighbor said she was going to get herself a handgun, it would make her feel safer, more protected. I invited her over to help herself to one of mine, for in the shape my old carcass is in, I'd probably shoot my foot off. I'm passionate about my right to bear arms, but instead of all of us strapping on side arms, we need to look for a deeper cure for our ills.

When hearing of the professor who survived the Holocaust only to die in his classroom while saving his students, I wondered if I could have ever responded that way? I don't know.

It's hard to imagine what runs through the mind of a person risking his own life to save the lives of others in the face of danger. With an armed killer trying to get into his classroom, Professor Librescu, 66, barricaded the door using his own body as a shield. He saved the lives of all his students and he was shot dead. He gave his own life so his students could go on with theirs.

This hero probably said to himself, "Never again," he wasn't about to let a mass murder happen, so he gave his life to protect the many who might have died. I thought it amazing that this man's family was not surprised to hear of their father's and husband's bravery. "It defined him, it will be his legacy." They knew he was going to take action somehow, that he would be doing something uncommon.

How do we know how we would react? Well, we just do, for we've all experienced times in our lives when there's been a crisis or something chaotic that calls for quick reaction. There are people who rise above the threat of death, who are not necessarily thinking about the outcome of their actions. They're thinking about the greater good for family and community.
These types tend to be very high moral, very compassionate and have strong ethics, are protective and brave. They have elements of risk-taking that most of us don't have. They're our heroes.

Our country is in rough shape and political correctness is a joke. Pornography, drugs, hip-hop music that glorifies all that is degrading, a loss of faith and not attending our churches, divisions between right and left, black and white, a culture that seems to be on the critical list. So many are disillusioned, and yet I suppose I wouldnt live elsewhere. At least I've never thought about it.

Sometimes I feel like we have lost our humanity in our culture. Man's love for man seems to have waxed cold. Do we know our neighbors up and down the street like my parents did in the 30's and 40's? We see garage doors going up and down that harbor at least two trendy vehicles, but do we ever wander over to greet the new, or old homeowners? And almost worse, do we help or share anymore? Except on my road where the tradition still thrives amongst we landlubbers. All we seem concerned with is materalism, consumerism, getting ahead of the Jones', and not caring for neighbors or old folks. We've lost that and it seems a tragedy.

A 2005 court order declared Cho mentally ill and in imminant danger to himself. After stalking complaints from fellow female students, Cho was taken to a mental health facility to be evaluated. The ACLU stepped in to state that Cho's civil rights were being defamed and he returned to school only to be kicked out of two classes for writing unacceptable horror stories. There were further behaviors that needed to be addressed, but weren't.

We are living in a culture now that's so centered on me, me, me, not just the kids, but the adults as well. I think we are raising a generation of children who are self-absorbed, never thinking about others. Not all, of course, for I do see my daughters instilling good values in my grandchildren, but not really forcing them as my parents did me. We nag some about it, but then we and society coddle them and give them extras, never saying, "No." We're telling kids to do the right things, but they want credit for it, rewards of external things, like pay, a better grade, an award, never because of intrinsic motivation or because it feels good. We parents should be good roll models, for there's no excuse for not helping others either by giving money or volunteering our time.

Professor Librescu was a man who obviously came from a family who cherished values above everything, especially his love for his fellow man. His students must have idolized him. It is their stories of incredible courage that allow us to heal from tragedies like the Virginia Tech massacre. Heroes give us hope, but they also present the question: Is there a hero in me, for it doesn't always take one's life to be one.