Liviu Livrescu – about courage and honor

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Liviu Livrescu, was born in Ploiesti, Romania in 1930. Of Jewish origins, Liviu Livrescu was a Holocaust survivor, after deporting in a labor camp in Transnistria and then in a ghetto in Focsani. After that he was repatriated in Romania, where he studied aerospace engineering at the Polytechnic University of Bucharest, graduating in 1952 and continuing with a Master’s degree at the same university being awarded a PhD in fluid mechanics in 1969 by the Romanian Academy of Science.

In 1970, after the refuse to swear allegiance to the Communist Party he was forced out of academia. He asked the permission to emigrate in Israel and obtained that only in 1978 after the Israeli Prime Minister personally intervened by directly asking the Romanian communist President Nicolae Ceauşescu.

From 1979 to 1985, Livrescu was Professor of Aeronautical and Mechanical Engineering at Tel Aviv University. In 1985, he moved in USA as Professor at Virginia Tech in its Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics.

On April 16, 2007, Liviu Livrescu was among the 33 people murdered in the Virginia Tech massacre after a young of 24 years opened fire on classrooms. Most of his students manage to escape through windows saved by the professor who remain in the door as human fence, being struck by five bullets.

His students called him a hero … “I don’t think I would be here if it wasn’t for” his sacrifice, Caroline Merrey, one of the students.

In Romania, the country where he was born, his picture and a candle was placed on a table at the Polytechnic University of Bucharest where people laid flowers in his memory.  The President of Romania commemorated Liviu Livrescu posthumously with Order of the Star of Romania with the rank of Grand Cross “as a sign of high appreciation and gratitude for the entire scientific and academic activity, as well as for the heroism shown in the course of the tragic events which took place on April 16th, 2007”. The street in front of the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest was named in his honor for never forgetting what sacrifice means.

photo: esm.vt.edu

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