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henry johnson memorial dayA statue of Henry Johnson is displayed in the Arbor Hill neighborhood in Albany, NY in July 2014.

Two-front warriors: Remember the centuries of heroism of African-American soldiers 

By Rich Lowry
via the New York Post newspaper web site

While serving as a sentry with French forces in the Argonne Forest in 1918, a black American private fought off German attackers. ­Unfazed by his wounds, he hurled grenades until they ran out, shot his rifle until it jammed, used his rifle as a club until it broke and ­finally used a bolo knife until ­reinforcements arrived.

The French recognized Henry Johnson’s heroism with a Croix de Guerre, while the United States gave him the Medal of Honor — posthumously, almost 100 years later.

Johnson is a part of a long African American military tradition of exceptional devotion to a country that, through its history, ­denied blacks their rights and discriminated against and humiliated its black soldiers.

These were the men of the iconic 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War and of the Harlem Hellfighters in World War I, of the Buffalo Soldiers on the frontier and of the legendary Tuskegee airmen in World War II.

They were always fighting a two-front war — against the enemy in battle and against prejudice at home. They were fighting to prove their mettle and that they were as — or more — American than their white countrymen.

They hoped that their patriotic commitment would loosen the grip of racist repression, and they were disappointed, often cruelly so. Still, they volunteered and, when given the opportunity, fought.

Read the entire article on the New York Post web site.

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