Dr. Ming Wang has been named ‘Nashvillian of the Year’ by the Nashville Kiwanis Club. The presentation was made during a luncheon Friday, July 29th at Bridgestone Arena in Downtown Nashville. The Kiwanis Nashvillian of the Year award has been given annually for 35 years. Other recipients have included Martha Ingram, Vince Gill, Sarah Cannon, Phil Bredesen, Karl Dean, Franck Wycheck, and Darryl Waltrip among others. The Kiwanis make this award to recognize outstanding members of the Nashville community for making the greatest possible difference in our community during the past year, and who have gone beyond the call of duty to give freely of his or her abilities without seeking personal recognition or reward.
Mr. Kenny Markanich of the Kiwanis Club introduced Dr. Wang, who offered brief remarks focused on his personal motivations to give so freely back to the Nashville community. Specifically, Dr. Wang focused on his early childhood in China, surviving the Cultural Revolution — which he referred to as the Cultural Holocaust. That story is detailed in his new autobiography, From Darkness to Sight, which he has written to benefit the Wang Foundation for Sight Restoration.
Most touching was the rare appearance of Dr. Wang’s parents, pictured here with George Armistead of the Kiwanis Club, to see him receive the award. Dr. Wang thanked his parents, and told the audience how tirelessly they worked to secure his freedom in America.
The theme of Dr. Wang’s remarks was gratitude. He spoke of his gratitude to the Kiwanis Club, his parents, his wife Anle, the people of China, and the people of America who embraced him arriving as an immigrant in 1982. The audience applauded when Dr. Wang said “We have so much here in America. We enjoy freedom unlike anywhere else in the World, and I pray we don’t have to lose it to fully-appreciate it.”
Dr. Wang concluded his remarks with the story of Kajal, an Indian orphan brought to the US by the Wang Foundation and several host families in an effort to restore her sight. Kajal had been intentionally blinded by her mother in India. The story is detailed in Dr. Wang’s autobiography, from which he read the key details of the story. The audience was riveted to the story, and ultimately Dr. Wang concluded by saying this was a great test of his faith. “I was angry with God for many weeks because we couldn’t restore Kajal’s sight. I asked God why such a horrible thing should be allowed to happen to an innocent child,” he said. It was only after Kajal appeared as a special guest at a Wang Foundation fundraiser that Dr. Wang realized God took this horrible thing and made it into something wonderful. “I saw how Kajal has transformed the lives of the host families, especially the children, and I realized something beautiful had happened. We were all affected by Kajal, and we appreciated our own lives more.”
It was a humble speech, given by a humble man, who showed why he deserves to be called the Kiwanis ‘Nashvillian of the Year.’