Commentary: Black veteran's views on Confederacy celebration will surprise you

The Rock Hill HeraldDecember 17, 2010 

YORK COUNTY -- There will be gowns and tuxedos and cocktails in Charleston on Monday night.

A gala - as it is called by the organizers - to commemorate what these people think is worthy of a ball with cut glass decanters and soft music.

Treason.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans Secession Ball is to celebrate South Carolina's seceding from the United States of America 150 years ago.

That secession came just before as many as 700,000 people died from gunshots and cannonballs blowing off their legs, as so many Southern states led by South Carolina fought to keep slavery.

They lost. The hundreds of thousands of poor white Southerners who did not own slaves that died because Southern landowners loved free slave labor, sure lost, too.

Death in that war knew no region. Hundreds of thousands of whites fighting against slavery died, too, just as horribly, from gaping holes in faces and chests, and slowly as their limbs fell off from gangrene.

For some reason, some people in South Carolina feel a need to celebrate this.

Johnnie Roseborough will not be among them.

Roseborough, 85, fought for the United States in World War II in Europe in the Battle of the Bulge. He was honored for his courage to free Europe from the racism of the Nazis - who claimed that some races were superior to others.

He returned home to Rock Hill after the war to find a South Carolina where, legally, some races were considered better than others.

Roseborough, of the race believed by so many to be inferior, soldiered on in life. He has soldiered on as segregation fell to its death, finally, and he had a family that grew.

Without hesitation, Roseborough will tell you he fought for the right of people to gather - like those who will make small talk while commemorating secession that led to the death of so many people in the Civil War.

"I have done in my life many things I had to do," said Roseborough. "I did them because I love my country. I wear my World War II veteran cap every day. People thank me - most of them are white. My country is America.

To read the complete column, visit www.heraldonline.com.

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