by Joe Shahen
President Obama today posthumously awarded Albany native Sgt. Henry Johnson, an African-American World War I hero, the Medal of Honor. This is the culmination of a years-long effort to have Johnson recognized with the highest military honor.
In May of 1918, Sgt. Johnson and a fellow soldier were ambushed by German troops, and Johnson single-handedly fought them off. Despite being injured during the altercation, Johnson was not given the Purple Heart until President Clinton posthumously awarded it to him in 1996. Johnson was also given the Distinguished Service Cross, and was the first American solider to receive the Croix de Guerre with Gold Palm, one of France’s highest military honors.
Sgt. Johnson has been honored in various ways around Albany, including a charter school named after him. Henry Johnson Charter School opened in 2007 and serves 390 students in grades K-4. It is a quality option in a city that badly needs one, consistently out-performing the Albany City School District on the state’s ELA and math exams.
Sgt. Johnson’s character forms the backbone of the school, which prepared this video for the ceremony:
Henry Johnson Charter School Principal Dr. Tiffani Curtis said, “Henry Johnson Charter School is named for a man who exemplified the power of strong character in the pursuit of excellence. It is our mission to increase what our scholars know and can do by changing how they learn, not just what they learn. We are proud to name our school after Sergeant Johnson for he is a person worthy of such honor. He has served as a compelling touchstone for the school's focus on the character development and academic achievement of its scholars and will continue to do so for years to come.”
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