Items tagged with 'Henry Johnson'

A medallion to commemorate Henry Johnson

Henry Johnson medal design obverse by Chris Costello

The image above is the design for a new coin-shaped medallion the Ferris Coin Co. is producing to commemorate Henry Johnson. (You might remember the call for entries back in March.) The reverse side, which is still being finalized, will feature Albany City Hall.

The winning design is by Chris Costello, who's designed many coins and medals. A quarter he designed for the US Mint honoring the Block Island National Wildlife Refuge in Rhode Island will be released later this year.*

The Henry Johnson medals will be available in June. Ferris is making 500 of them, and the price will depend on the price of silver. A group of the coins will be set aside for winners of the Henry Johnson Award for Distinguished Community Service. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the coins will benefit the Albany Veterans of the 369th, which worked to get Henry Johnson recognized with the Medal of Honor.

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Recognizing Henry Johnson -- and the people who worked to gain that recognition

Albany Washington Park Henry Johnson memorial

The Henry Johnson memorial in Washington Park, near Madison and Willett, and now includes a replica of Johnson's Medal of Honor.

"It means that we brought justice to Henry Johnson."

That was how James Dandles -- a Vietnam War veteran -- described the addition of a replica of the Medal of Honor to a monument commemorating World War I hero Henry Johnson in Albany's Washington Park Monday. Dandles was part of a group of veterans and officials who worked for decades to get Johnson's heroism officially recognized.

"It's been a long, long time coming."

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Henry Johnson's Medal of Honor

Henry Johnson Medal of Honor on display

Were by the Capitol today so we took a moment to stop in to see Henry Johnson's Medal of Honor, which was posthumously awarded to the Albany WWI hero earlier this year after a long effort.

The small display in the Capitol's War Room includes a few other items, among them the sort of helmet and knife that Johnson had the night he bravely fought to rescue a member of his unit during an attack by a crew of approximately 30 German soldiers. There was something about seeing these items -- the knife, especially -- that reinforced for us how terrifying the whole episode must have been.

It's notable that the exhibit doesn't skip over what happened to Johnson when he returned from the war. He was briefly hailed as a hero, but once he spoke out about the discrimination he and other African-American soldiers had faced, the government basically dropped him. He didn't end up getting the benefits he was owed. And the official recognition of his bravery would be much too long in arriving.

The Capitol: If you've never been to the Capitol -- or haven't been in years -- it's worth stopping in if you have the chance. If do so now, you'll be able to see the Henry Johnson exhibit. And you'll also be able to check out the all renovations that were completed in recent years, browse through the Hall of Governors, and maybe take a tour.

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.

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