Thousands of miles apart, people in New York in the United States and Guangzhou in South China honor a Chinese-American hero in different ways.
More than 100 people from all walks of life gathered in New York on Saturday at a memorial service in Chinatown to pay tribute to Zack Zeng, a 29-year-old Chinese American who sacrificed his life to rescue others in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attack last year.
Speaking at the memorial service, Oliver Tan, assistant to the New York governor, said people would never forget Zack Zeng's readiness to come to others' aid and to sacrifice himself in the face of risk.
Echoing Tan, New York City Council member John C. Liu said "Zack's deeds are an inspiration to all New Yorkers and all Americans and his story needs to be told over and over again."
Chinese Consul-General in New York Zhang Hongxi said Zack Zeng deserves to be held up as a model for Chinese Americans.
Guan Liang, chairman of the United Chinese Association of New York, said he was proud that the Chinese people have such worthy sons like Zack Zeng and that his native city of Guangzhou has produced such a hero. "Zack will always live in our hearts," he said.
Timothy Keaney, representative of the Bank of New York where Zack worked before his death, described Zack as a hard-working and selfless person who was always ready to help others.
Keaney reaffirmed that one of the bank's divisions will dedicate a conference room in Zack's honor and the bank will raise money every year for Brighton Emergency Ambulance in a Rochester suburb where Zack volunteered as a certified emergency medical technician.
Nancy Wang, who taught Zack in high school, recalled that Zack was a warmhearted man who always took an active part in extracurricular activities. He was also always ready to help his American schoolmates learn about Chinese culture.
Born in Guangzhou on September 30, 1972, Zack Zeng, whose Chinese name was Zeng Zhe, emigrated to the United States in 1988. He pursued undergraduate studies and obtained a master of business administration degree from the University of Rochester before joining the Bank of New York in 1998 with the title of assistant treasurer in the depository receipts division.
On September 11, 2001, Zack happened to pass the site of the terrorist attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York on the way to his office just two blocks away.
He risked his life by assisting a firefighter to help two injured women and later he returned to the scene and was filmed by chance by the Fox 5 TV channel.
On May 18, the New York police informed Zack's mother that part of his son's remains had been recovered from the ruins and identified through a DNA test.
Many Americans have been deeply touched by Zack's story, as he was neither a WTC employee nor a uniformed rescuer. He never hesitated to come to the aid of the neediest at the risk of his life in the face of the historically unprecedented terrorist attacks.
Meanwhile in Guangzhou, students attending Guangzhou No. 1 Middle School at the start of this academic year received, along with their new textbooks, a request that they honor and remember heroic alumnus Zeng Zhe.
This brave young Chinese American has gained popularity in his hometown of Guangzhou since last September 11.
The people of Guangzhou held memorial services in Fengqing Shouyue Primary School and the No. 1 Middle School. The Local Education Bureau also called on students to learn from his heroic example.
In Zeng's honor, the students' union at the No. 1 Middle School produced a biographical slide show including the Fox news footage of Zeng's heroism. Former teachers in both schools say they still have fond memories of the generous boy.
(China Daily September 9, 2002)