Yuguang Zheng, 65, and his wife, Shuyin Yang, 62, were the only Chinese couple onboard American Airlines Flight 77 to Los Angeles. The couple was on their way back to China after an extended visit with their daughter in the Baltimore area. Mr. Zheng, a chemist before retirement, graduated from Nanjing University; he majored in Analytical Chemistry. His wife graduated from Shanghai Second Medical University and was a retired pediatrician.
Yuguang and Shuyin were married for 35 years and raised one son, Shidong, of Nagano, Japan, and one daughter, Rui, of Baltimore, Maryland. They were very loving and affectionate, although they had quite different hobbies and personalities. The husband loved painting and was accomplished at Taichi. He was a little bit reserved. When talking with him, you would find he would be quiet and listen to you most of the time. To his children he was a special father because he made them feel the love from the bottom of his heart, even though he didn’t speak a lot. His wife was an active, openminded and kind lady. She loved to try everything that was novel to her, even though sometimes it was a little risky. She liked cooking and was very good at it. Those who tried her cooking loved her and her food. Definitely the most important thing about her was that she was a good mother. She listened, accompanied, and did her best to comfort her children whenever they felt upset and frustrated, even after they grew up. To both Yuguang and Shuyin, family was the most important thing. They loved each other and their children.
The couple came to the United States to visit their daughter and had stayed for almost a year. Their English was very limited, but they had made some good friends around the area where they lived. Sometimes the couple was invited by friends to have dinner or tea; they could spend hours together using only limited and simple words to communicate with each other. Actually, the majority of the neighbors knew the Chinese couple because it was so easy to make friends and get along with them. Though they were over 60, they were still enthusiastic about learning English as a foreign language. When a new word came up, they would immediately turn to the dictionary or ask their daughter. Sometimes they even made their daughter write the words and sentences down so that it would be easy for them to memorize.
Just before leaving, they took a one-week vacation with their daughter and son-in-law in Maine. They had a wonderful time there sightseeing, hiking and swimming. One day after the vacation, they got on American Airlines Flight 77 and left for China. Before getting onboard, they told their daughter, who saw them off at Dulles Airport, how much they enjoyed the year with her and promised to visit again in a couple of years. Then they hugged and kissed her. Rui stayed and watched them until they disappeared onto the plane that crashed into the Pentagon and led to a national and a family tragedy that separates them from their loving family members and close friends forever. For their family members, the only thing that provides relief is knowing that the devoted couple was together all the time, even at the last minute of their lives. What they left behind for family members and friends are loving memories. The only wish of their children is that their parents didn’t suffer at that horrible moment. In their minds, their beloved parents still stay with them and care about them as usual. The only difference is that they cannot see their parents and hear their voices again.