Saturday, September 11, 2010

Project 2,996: A Tribute to Shuyin Yang and Yuguang Zheng

Pause to consider the lives of a loving couple who enriched those around them with many acts of compassion and kindness but were taken on September 11, 2001. Yang Shuyin and Zheng Yuguang had been married for 35 years. She had been a pediatrician; he a chemist. She had an active sense of adventure; he was a quiet good listener. She loved to cook; he practiced tai chi and liked to paint. To their two children, she was a kind, attentive, open-minded mother; he was a loving, patient father.

Shuyin and Yuguang were devoted to each other. They lived in Beijing.

After they retired, Shuyin and Yuguang came to the United States to visit their daughter, Zheng Rui, who was earning a post-doctoral degree from Johns Hopkins University. (Their son, Yang Shidong, was then an engineer working in Japan.) They stayed for almost a year. The couple enthusiastically learned English as well as they could and, with help from their trusty dictionary, embarked on conversations and made friends in the neighborhood. Just before leaving on their return flight, Shuyin, Yuguang, and their daughter and son-in-law, Wan Li, spent a week in Maine, hiking, swimming, and enjoying the sights.

As the couple were about to board their flight to Los Angeles for the first leg of their journey home, they hugged and kissed Rui and promised to return. Shuyin and Yuguang were not able to keep that promise. The airliner they boarded, American Airlines Flight 77, was hijacked by Islamic terrorists who crashed it into the Pentagon.

Shuyin had left behind a gift, an image of the Bodhisattva Guanyin, who, Rui explained, "hears the cries of the world and responds with deep care to those in need. Guanyin is also believed to bring happiness, give love and take care of people. That’s how my mother lived her life."

The features of her father's paintings, Rui said, capture him: quiet, peaceful, but full of vitality."

The thought that Shuyin and Yuguang were together at the end offers some comfort to their bereaved family. Perhaps the painting below would have brought a smile of recognition to the faces of Shuyin and Yuguang. In the Chinese tradition, a pair of mandarin ducks symbolize a loving couple.



  1. My deepest sympathies to their family.

    I honor Sharon Carver.

  2. That painting is exquisite. This is a lovely tribute to Yang Shuyin and Zheng Yuguang who seem such a gentle loving couple. Thank you for honoring them.

  3. What a beautiful tribute. Thank you.

    I honor and remember Christopher Paul Slattery.

  4. This is a beautiful tribute, Quite Rightly.

    The painting is a masterful work of art.

  5. Both were very moving tributes, Quite Rightly. Thank you for doing this and helping us all put a human face on the losses that day.

  6. Thanks for the tribute.