In World War One a group of African American soldiers were given over to the French military to fight against the Germans as they were not allowed to fight under an American flag. One night while in the trenches, a group of German soldiers came crawling across the battlefield. While cutting the bob wire to clear their path, Pvt Henry Johnson encountered them and fought the group off single handedly. Accidentally jamming his American gun by putting a French clip into it, he swung the rifle striking German soldiers defending his men and post. He was stabbed an beaten during the conflict, He was soon resorted to using his knife to fight off the German soldiers alone. When the morning came, it was discovered that his amazing act of bravery had resulted in killing four of the enemy soldiers causing as many as thirty to retreat.

He was then awarded a special citation by the French government, the Croix de Guerre.  It was Frances highest award of Bravery. Meanwhile he received no such thing from the United States. It took the U.S. another 75 years to award him a purple heart, decades after he already died. During the rest of his life he was penniless and unable to work due to injuries sustained in the conflict (28 stab wounds including the crushing of his feet and legs). The military disqualified him for disability pay and gave him no recognition upon returning home. The U.S. also asked the French to not honor him so publicly as it would give other African Americans "ideas".

Let us remember Henry Johnson and the Harlem Hellfighters. 



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