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Black History Month Symposium Highlights Accomplishments of SC Rep. Lonnie Hosey

Molly Hamilton Feb 28, 2018

Students from elementary schools in Barnwell and Allendale counties came aboard the USS Yorktown on February 23 for a Black History Month event honoring the life accomplishments of South Carolina State Representative Lonnie Hosey.  The event was part of the ongoing symposium series—“Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things”— offered by the Patriots Point Institute of History, Science and Technology.  The title of the event was “From Barnwell County to the State House” shedding light on the journey of Hosey’s career.

During the symposium, fellow South Carolina Representative Lin Bennett presented Representative Hosey with a resolution signed by all other members of the House.  The resolution read in part: “Members of the HOR of the state of SC by this resolution recognize and salute the honorable Lonnie Hosey, a genuine American patriot and a South Caroina statesman and honor his distinguished service with the 1st Marine Division during the Vietnam War and his service in the House of Representatives.”

Representative Hosey shared with the students in the audience how he grew up in a segregated South Carolina during a time of civil rights struggles in the 1950s and 60s. As he recalled, “I heard the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. talk.  I heard Jesse Jackson talk.  I heard others talk about ‘being somebody,’ – even James Brown!  James brown talked about being black and being proud.”  All of this talk from people he had grown to admire led Hosey to his own truth, “I wanted to be somebody.”

After high school, he decided to leave the segregated South for what he perceived to be better opportunities up North, and he moved to New Jersey.  Not long after,the government began the draft and Hosey chose to decide his own future.  On a dare from his cousin, who said he “wasn’t  tough enough for the Marines,” Hosey enlisted with the United States Marine Corps and set off for boot camp at Parris Island, SC when he was 18 years old.

After boot camp, Hosey was sent to serve with the 1st Marine Division in the Vietnam War.  He had been there for about five months when he was shot in his elbow.  He was sent to a hospital ship, the USS Repose, for treatment and was there for nearly three weeks before being returned to the battlefield.  Five months later, his division was taking part in a large operation south of Da Nang when his platoon came under heavy fire.

Many of Hosey’s friends were killed and Hosey himself was wounded with mortar shrapnel and small arms fire in both legs.  He found himself incapacitated on the battlefield and he had to wait to be rescued by his comrades.  He recalled for the students how his fellow Marines risked their lives to save his. After medical transfers from hospitals around the world and the United States, Sergeant Hosey ended up in the Charleston Naval Hospital where he spent one year and 14 days recovering.  He earned a purple heart for his service to his country.

After receiving an honorable discharge from the Marine Corps, Hosey began a career in higher education where he worked for decades before running for the South Carolina House of Representatives to represent Barnwell, Allendale and Orangeburg counties.  He has served in the state house now for the past 18 years.

The students in the audience no doubt learned from his long and successful career.  Two of the students joined Hosey on the stage to talk about their own life goals and how they can best make their dreams a reality.  One of the students, Jordan, dreams of being a football player while Arianna hopes to one day become a judge in the United States Supreme Court.

Representative Hosey shared many thoughts of wisdom with the young fifth graders.  He told them to “Stay in front of the classroom, do what the teacher asks of you and be disciplined.”  He encouraged them to “love your friends, but don’t let them ever hold you back.”

As the program came to an end, Representative Hosey shared with the students his most important advice: “You can’t be an easy follower.  You have to be a leader.”

Check out a gallery of photos from the event below:

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