10 Selfless Acts Amid Terrible Tragedies That Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity
The Canadian Town of Gander
9/11 is a moment in history that every American vividly remembers. We remember the planes exploding, the desperate office workers plunging to their deaths, the towers falling, and the dust caked pedestrians fleeing for their lives. Unfortunately, what we don’t remember is the boundless hospitality of one small Canadian town in Newfoundland.
After the attack, all civilian air traffic over the United States and Canada was ordered to be grounded. 38 planes carrying nearly 7,000 people from around the world were forced to land at the airport outside of Gander, a town of 10,000 people. Obviously, a town of that size didn’t have nearly enough hotel rooms to house all of those people.
So the people of Gander and other nearby towns simply opened their doors to these complete strangers and housed them. The locals ignored the advice of the police, who feared that some of the stranded passengers could be terrorists. Nearly every church, school, and restaurant pitched in by housing or feeding them, often free of charge. Local bus drivers ended a strike to help drive these strangers around, and pharmacies in the town provided medication, also free of charge. This went on for four days until the airspace was reopened, and everyone went home with fond memories of Canadian hospitality.
Liviu Librescu was a 76-year-old Romanian-American scientist, aeronautical engineer, and professor at Virginia Tech, and he was no stranger to the horrors that his fellow humans were capable of. That’s because he was a Jew who had survived the Holocaust as a child. In his final moments, he came face to face with evil one last time, and didn’t hesitate to sacrifice himself for the lives of everyone around him.
On April 16th, 2007, a student of Virginia Tech by the name of Seung-Hui Cho entered the campus with two pistols and opened fire, eventually killing 33 people. When he arrived at Librescu’s classroom, the professor and two other students named Zach Petkewicz and Derek O’Dell, blocked the doors so that the gunman couldn’t get in. This gave all but one of his students enough time to flee the classroom through a nearby window, before Cho shot and killed them.