WWI Medals of Honor: Henry Johnson William Shemin

Published: June 2, 2015

WWI Medals of Honor: Henry Johnson William Shemin, There was never any doubt about the bravery of Sgt William Shemin and Pvt Henry Johnson, but it took almost 100 hundred years for it to be officially recognised.

Campaigners for the two US soldiers – one of them Jewish, one of them black and a member of the so-called Harlem Hellfighters – had long claimed that discrimination and bigotry had stood in the way of them being honoured.

On Tuesday, the two men were finally being posthumously given the Medal of Honour for their actions in rescuing comrades amid the misery and death of the battlefields of France.

It took 97 years to get these soldiers the Medal of Honor. Here’s how it happened. http://t.co/BCkkUp2GMX

– Rajiv Chandrasekaran (@rajivscribe) June 2, 2015
The Associated Press said Mr Shemin repeatedly dodged gunfire to pull wounded colleagues to safety, while Mr Johnson managed to save a friend from his all-black regiment while single-handedly fighting off a surprise German attack.

President Barack Obama recognised the men with the highest award for bravery for their actions on the field. Advocates for the two men led Congress to pass an exemption from Medal of Honour rules that specified that such actions have to have taken place within five years to be considered.

“Nobody who serves our country should ever be forgotten,” Mr Obama said at the ceremony in Washington.

Ms Shemin’s daughter, Elsie Shemin-Roth of St Louis, worked for years to gather documents in support of the bid for her father and accepted the award from Mr Obama on his behalf.

In the early 2000s, she learned of a law that reviewed cases of Jews who may have been denied medals they earned in World War II and fought for passage of a law to provide similar reviews for Jewish World War I veterans, the AP said.

William Shemin’s daughter said her father was the victim of anti-Semitism

“This was anti-Semitism, no question about it,” Ms Shemin-Roth, who is in her 80s, said in an interview in December when Congress passed the exemption for her father, who died in 1973.

She added: “Now a wrong has been made right and all is forgiven.”

WWI Medals of Honor: Henry Johnson William Shemin


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