Wednesday, April 18, 2007

For Liviu Librescu

You were thirteen when the War ended.
Did you have a bar mitzvah?
Surely you must have remembered
the swastikas and the hateful glances.
And now, sixty years later,
your body lies waiting
to go home to Israel.

What the Nazis couldn't do
was done, indiscriminately,
in your second home, the classroom.
The gunman's bullets
ripped through the barricaded door,
ending your life.
Your students, some of them, if not all,
will forever associate your name
with the sparing of their lives.
Your name will be in their prayers
and the blessings of their thankful families.
Your dying moment, surely, will be burned
into the memories of those you helped save.

All I know of you
is the photograph and
four short paragraphs in
The New York Times.

I imagine you rising with singed wings
out of the ashes of Europe,
soaring through life,
teaching with passion,
giving your life to your students
giving your life for your students
giving your life
dying so they might live.

Copyright © 2007 William Dickenson Cohen


Dreaming on a Moonbeam said...

beautiful... as always

Justin Kozuch said...

Absolutely beautiful. Well written.

Anonymous said...

I was looking something to finish my night off. This did the trick.


Anonymous said...

Here is my own tribute to Professor Librescu

My Stand
A Tribute to Liviu Librescu
By Philip C. Selz, 4/18/07

In the darkest times we’ve seen, I was sent into the camps
As I smelled the stench of burning flesh, I knew my kin were gone
Survival was my only thought, I knew I must come through
But I didn’t know the reason that my living must go on

And when the war had ended, liberation finally came
And I grew to be a man and shortly after took a wife
And we raised our kids in Israel and we did the best we could
And we lived for those who died and worked to make a useful life

Then a teaching job came to me in America one day
And I thought that building new young minds was destiny for me
So I traveled to Virginia and I made a brand new start
And I taught engineering in this homeland of the free

Now I hear the hallways screaming as shots are fired there
And I hear the terror in the screams and understand their plight
So I bar the door from danger and I tell my students “Run!”
And as the bullets breach the door I know that I must fight

And in these final moments as my life is seeping out
I think back over 60 years and finally understand
My own salvation now makes sense as children flee and live
I was saved that day to save this day, I’ve finally made my stand