GREENE – In the midst of the political and media maelstrom that has followed last Friday’s tragic shooting at the American Civic Association in Binghamton, David Marsland is the calm, quiet strength within the storm.
Marsland’s wife, Hong Xiu Mao Marsland, was one of the 13 killed at the center where she had been taking English classes and working toward her citizenship since August of last year.
“The timing of this is just too poignant,” said Marsland, as he recalls the woman he met for the first time on Christmas Day in 2007. Just days before her death, he said, he had heard his wife tell a friend that she was living the American Dream.
Hong Xiu was animated, humorous, playful and funny as he told anecdotes of the couple’s life together. He said they often joked about their cultural differences, and he remembers her laughing about how much she enjoyed life.
“Her favorite part of our life together was pillow talk,” he said, recalling the time they spent talking about their day, working on English and getting even closer in their relationship. “We had everything we wanted, and we were just getting started,” Marsland said.
The two had been planning a trip to China, which would have been his first trip to his wife’s homeland and her first time back since she sought asylum in the U.S. in 2004.
His wife had grown up in Nan Lin, a rural community in the Guanxi province of China, he explained, in a level of poverty few Americans can fully comprehend. She dropped out of school at an early age to help her mother on their farm, which allowed her oldest brother to continue in school and become a teacher.