Today's Richmond Times Dispatch had pictures (where available) and a summary (where available) of the slain. The students, with their young, smiling, fresh faces reflecting all the hope and promise that they would reasonable expect, are extinguished. Four professors--people dedicated to educating inquiring minds--two early in their careers, one in the apex of his career and another at the end of his career. Not that each of the people didn't have compelling stories, but I was particularly struck by this story, the story of Liviu Librescu, 76--the professor at the end of his career.
Liviu Librescu was from Romania. He was a world renown expert in aeroelasticity and composite structures. When the shooting began, he remained calm and guarded the door while his students went out the window.
He had survived first a German concentration camp, and then later lived under the Romanian regime of Nicolae Ceausecu. Eventually he was able to immigrate to Israel, and later came to Tech in 1985.
My neighbor's son is home. I'll visit with him tomorrow to see how he is doing. He knew one of the young women who was killed. He's a very sensitive young man, who is greatly interested in the plight of socioeconomically disadvantaged people. He's spent time in Africa and Costa Rica. He will spend his life helping others.
Sometimes we are overwhelmed with a sense that we need to accomplish something big. But if we were to help just one person shoulder his or her load in this life, that is a wonderful thing. And here we have a quiet, resolute man-- Nicolae Ceausecu--who has experienced most of life's indignities, carry himself with grace and courage amid mahem.
So rather than find the next big thing to do, I'm going to concentrate on the next small thing to do.