History

The Battle of Henry Johnson

The Battle of Henry Johnson statue in Washington Park commemorates the heroic actions of Henry Johnson, an African American soldier who served during World War I. The statue, located in Washington Park in Albany, New York, stands as a tribute to Johnson’s bravery and sacrifice in the face of adversity. Henry Johnson was a member of the 369th Infantry Regiment, also known as the “Harlem Hellfighters,” a unit comprised primarily of African American soldiers. On May 14, 1918, Johnson and his fellow soldier Needham Roberts were on sentry duty in the Argonne Forest in France when they came under attack by a German raiding party. Despite being outnumbered and sustaining multiple injuries, Johnson fought valiantly to defend his comrade and repel the enemy forces.

Johnson’s actions during the battle earned him widespread recognition and accolades, including the French Croix de Guerre, one of the highest honors for valor in the French military. Despite his heroism, Johnson’s contributions went largely unrecognized in the United States during his lifetime due to racial discrimination and segregation. In recent years, efforts have been made to honor and commemorate Johnson’s bravery, including the installation of the Battle of Henry Johnson statue in Washington Park. The statue, unveiled in 1991, depicts Johnson in a defiant pose, wielding a rifle and standing resolutely against the backdrop of the forest where the fateful battle took place.

The Battle of Henry Johnson statue in Washington Park Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012 in Albany, N.Y. World War I hero Sgt. Henry Johnson of Albany, subject of a 94-year effort by supporters to award him the Medal of Honor, will be featured in an hourlong episode of the PBS program History Detectives.
The Battle of Henry Johnson statue in Washington Park Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012 in Albany, N.Y. World War I hero Sgt. Henry Johnson of Albany, subject of a 94-year effort by supporters to award him the Medal of Honor, will be featured in an hourlong episode of the PBS program History Detectives.

The statue serves as a powerful symbol of resilience and determination in the face of adversity, as well as a reminder of the sacrifices made by African American soldiers during World War I. It stands as a testament to Johnson’s courage and valor, as well as a tribute to all those who have served and sacrificed in defense of their country. The Battle of Henry Johnson statue has become a focal point for commemorative events and ceremonies honoring Johnson and the Harlem Hellfighters. It serves as a gathering place for veterans, community members, and visitors to pay their respects and reflect on the legacy of those who have served in the armed forces.

The installation of the statue has also sparked conversations about the importance of recognizing and preserving the contributions of African American soldiers in shaping the course of history. It has prompted discussions about the need to ensure that their stories are included in the narrative of American military history and that their sacrifices are duly acknowledged and honored. The Battle of Henry Johnson statue stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of Henry Johnson and his fellow soldiers, serving as a reminder of their courage and fortitude in the face of adversity. It stands as a tribute to their service and sacrifice, ensuring that their contributions will never be forgotten.

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