“Henry Lincoln Johnson, the soldier who received the French cross [Croix de Guerre], was born in Alexandria in 1897, and was buried at nearby Arlington Cemetery 32 years later. A decade ago, he received the Distinguished Service Cross. His descendants are still waiting for him to receive a Medal of Honor.”
I WROTE those words one year ago, upon the release of the historical graphic novel “Harlem Hellfighters.” Author Max Brooks (“World War Z”), working with artist Caanan White, paid tribute to the all-black 369th infantry regiment that fought so heroically in World War I, even though these soldiers were not permitted to fight alongside their white countrymen, and so found valor battling shoulder to shoulder alongside French forces, instead.
“This is a passion project,” Brooks told The Post’s Comic Riffs about “Harlem Hellfighters.” (My review here.) The graphic novel’s film rights had freshly been optioned by Sony and Will Smith, and Brooks hoped a spotlight shined on the bloody sacrifices and bold achievements of the 369th would help these men become more recognized in the long arc of the American narrative. And one step toward that goal would be honoring one of World War I’s first American heroes: Sgt. Henry Johnson.
“Brooks understands that there are so many men and women from so many U.S. wars to properly honor. His aim is that the Harlem Hellfighters receive their rightful place in the American memory.”
SOURCE: Michael Cavna