Henry Johnson awarded the Medal of Honor

henry johnson medal of honor white house

Command Sgt. Maj. Louis Wilson of the New York Army National Guard (left) accepted the Medal of Honor on behalf of Henry Johnson. / screengrab via White House live feed on YouTube

Albany WWI hero Henry Johnson was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor today at the White House. It is the nation's highest military honor. And it comes almost a century after Johnson's acts in France, after decades of work to obtain the recognition.

"It's never too late to say thank you," remarked Barack Obama at the start of the ceremony to honor Johnson and William Shemin, another WWI Medal of Honor recipient from New York State.

Henry Johnson Croix de Guerre
Henry Johnson displaying his French Croix de Guerre. / photo via Wikipedia

Henry Johnson served in France with the famed Harlem Hellfighters, who had been placed under the command of French forces because of racism within the US Army. While on sentry duty in 1918 he fought off a surprise German attack of at least 12 soldiers and saved a fellow American soldier, all while being wounded multiple times. Upon his return to the United States he was initially hailed as a hero. But he was later marginalized after speaking out about the racism African-Americans faced in the military. Unable to work because of his war injuries, Johnson's personal life crumbled and he died at the age of 32.

The effort to have Johnson formally recognized with military honors such as the Purple Heart (awarded in 1996) and Medal of Honor was decades long, outliving some of its most passionate supporters, notably the late John Howe.

Said Barack Obama at the White House ceremony:

"It has taken a long time for Henry Johnson and William Shemin to receive the recognition they deserve. And there are surely others whose heroism is still unacknowledged and uncelebrated. So we have work to do as a nation to make sure that all of our heroes stories are told. And we'll keep at it, as long at it takes. America is the country it is today because of people like Henry and William, Americans who signed up to serve and rose to meet their responsibilities -- and then went beyond. The least we can say is 'We know who you are. We know what you did for us. We are forever grateful.'"

Here's video of the ceremony.

The State Museum has set up an exhibit about both Henry Johnson and William Shemin in its main lobby through June 8.

Earlier on AOA: Henry Johnson will be awarded the Medal of Honor -- finally

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

What's All Over Albany?

All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.

Search

Recently on All Over Albany

You can rent a kayak at the Corning Riverfront Park now

You can now rent kayaks at the Corning Riverfront Park in Albany. A company called Upstate Kayak Rentals has installed a self-serve kayak rental hub... (more)

Albany is expanding its pay-by-plate parking meters and mobile parking payment

The Albany Parking Authority is expanding the use of the pay-by-license plate and pay-by-app parking meters. The new meters will be replacing the "pay-and-display" multi-space... (more)

PearlPalooza 2018 lineup

This year's PearlPalooza -- the WEQX-organized free music festival on Pearl Street in downtown Albany -- is Saturday, September 15. And the lineup is out.... (more)

Morning Blend

Family separations and New York + Andrew Cuomo asserted Thursday that as governor he has a "legal responsibility for the health and welfare of children... (more)

The Capital Region's home ownership rate ticked upward last year for the first time in a while

Another few bits for the apartments / rents discussion... The home ownership rate in the Albany-Schenectady-Troy metro area ticked upward for the first time since... (more)

Recent Comments

I don't think that's what's meant by "serpentine belt replacement".

Albany is expanding its pay-by-plate parking meters and mobile parking payment

...has 1 comment, most recently from K

Stuff to do this weekend

...has 2 comments, most recently from Chris

The Capital Region's home ownership rate ticked upward last year for the first time in a while

...has 1 comment, most recently from Mike

No. No. No. No. No. No. No.

...has 2 comments, most recently from Ellen

Albany City Hall carillon concerts

...has 1 comment, most recently from Tim