Thursday, August 7, 2008

A Celestial Son Goes Home

Ah Quin
Ah Quin Family

Dr. Dennis Ming 1944-2008

A worthy pause to honor a decent man who left a legacy that touched at least three worlds. Dr. Dennis Ming, was a doctor of pharmacology and had a rich career as a pharmacologist. Dennis passed away July 31, 2008 while on a hike near his home in Orange, CA. His obituary tells only part of the story of his life.
As noted in his obituary, Dr. Ming made time to serve his community as a reserve police officer in the City of Orange for 25 year, in addition to being a full time professor of Pharmacology at UCI and other posts in the field of pharmacy. He also found time to become the most award winning all time cowboy action shooting champion for 5 years in a row. Cowboy Action Radio #12 - A Tribute to China Camp : CAS City. and SASS Single Action Shooting Society.
Now all this is interesting and a great achievement, and one would ask why I would pause to reflect on Dennis's life. His obituary notes that Dennis was a 4th generation American born in San Diego, Ca. His legacy comes from a bloodline that reaches back into the middle of the 19th century when Chinese first came to California during and after the Gold Rush of 1849. I stop to consider that Dennis is the product of resilience by his ancestors to persevere and flourish amid a society that did not welcome Asians. Shortly after his great grandfather, Ah Quin arrived in America and before moving to San Diego San Diego History an event occurred in Los Angeles that shook the Asian community "Chinese Massacre of 1871". That event and the agitation led by Dennis Kearney The Kearney Agitation in California, by Henry George, eventually led to the Chinese Exclusion Act, 1882 stopping all Chinese and eventually all Asian immigration until 1943. That change occurred only because China was an ally against Japan. The level of yearly immigration quotas would remain obscenely low for another 32 years until the end of the Vietnam War. During those years, Chinese people dug in and found ways to not only survive, but flourish and add to the tapestry of America. The three preceding generations of Dennis Ming can look down on their son and be proud that he brought honor to their family and the country that became their homeland.
Did Dennis Ming become a activist and agitate to ask for special treatment of Asians? Did he rest upon his oppressed legacy and demand special treatment? The answer is a resounding NO. Dennis Ming went on the live his life and accomplish more in his 63 years that most men can aspire too. The irony is that he became know worldwide for his achievements as world champion in a shooting sport integrating 19th century shooting skills, firearms and dress, Ming Family.
As the recent book. Chinese on the American Frontier (Pacific Formations) relates, Chinese immigrants were active participants in the development of the American West. Had Dennis lived in the 19th century, and given the opportunities he had today, we would probably be reading of his exploits as much as we now read of Wyatt Earp or Bat Masterson. Alas, it was not to be, Dennis instead lived a life that gave all who knew him, a feeling deep in their hearts, that a good man has passed from our midst.

So indulge me if you will, as I take the time to acknowledge this man and his family, for a life well lived and a legacy fulfilled to his ancestors who first came to seek the "Gold Mountain".
Update: I note that a lot of China Camp's cowboy friends have visited the past few days. To all of you, I share your loss.
Jonah Hook, SASS #4442

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