ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Albany officials commemorated a local historical hero on Saturday with a wreath-laying ceremony at Henry Johnson Park. That’s because it was Henry Johnson Day, honoring the 104th anniversary of his enlistment in World War I.

  • 369th Regiment vets Jim Dandles and Ronald Wilson with Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan on Henry Johnson Day (Courtesy: City of Albany)
  • Wallis Howe Rosenzweig Speaks at Henry Johnson Day (courtesy: City of Albany)
  • LaShaunda Motley Singing Lift Every Voice and Sing on Henry Johnson Day (courtesy: City of Albany)

Johnson is revered and remembered as a hero for single-handedly fighting off a German raid in hand-to-hand combat during the war. And despite that courage, Johnson was forbidden from wearing his uniform publicly after speaking out against racism.

Officials say Sgt. Johnson’s story is a reminder of the continuing struggle for equality. “It is important for us to take the memory of henry johnson and continue to push back on systemic racism that conquers us and divides us,” said Rep. Paul Tonko. “We’re not free until all are free.”

Johnson’s valor earned him a posthumous Medal of Honor from Pres. Barack Obama. The ceremony also kicked off the nomination period for the Henry Johnson Award for Distinguished Community Service. Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said she hopes to recognize someone who served on the front lines of the pandemic.

Joining Tonko and Sheehan were Assemblymember John McDonald, County Executive Daniel McCoy, City Councilmember Joyce Love, and veterans of the 369th Infantry Regiment, including James Dandles and Ronald Wilson.