Commemorative art installation features image of WWI hero Sgt. Henry Johnson that is comprised of crowd-sourced photos celebrating military service members in honor of Veterans Day
Washington, D.C. – America250, the nationwide commemoration of America’s 250th anniversary in 2026 led by the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission, today unveiled the 2021 November Salute commemorative photo mosaic, created by The People’s Picture, depicting WWI hero Sgt. Henry Johnson at the National WWI Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri. America250 and the National WWI Museum and Memorial celebrated the unveiling with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Veterans Day, 2021.
The 14-foot art installation is located inside the Museum with two displays, and includes over 3,500 photos and stories of active-duty service members, reservists, guard members, and veterans submitted by Americans across the country alongside images from the Museum and Memorial collection. In addition to the public display, the 2021 mosaic is available for viewing through America250’s interactive online gallery, where the community can explore and learn more about the photos and stories within the artwork.
“America250’s November Salute creates an opportunity to recognize the brave men and women who serve and have served our country,” said Joseph Daniels, president and CEO of the America250 Foundation. “Honoring and remembering the heroes who defend and sacrifice for our freedom is integral to America250’s mission to inspire the American spirit and strengthen our democracy.”
November Salute is an annual program of America250 that shares America’s stories and honors those who have served our country in uniform.
“We are proud to partner with the National WWI Museum and Memorial and The People’s Picture for our second annual November Salute program,” added Daniel M. DiLella, chairman, U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission. “November Salute invites Americans from across the country to come together and elevate the stories of our nation’s heroes, past and present.”
Sgt. Henry Johnson was selected in honor of the centennial of the dedication of the grounds of the National WWI Museum and Memorial and the unveiling of the National WWI Memorial in Washington, DC. Johnson enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1917 and was assigned to the all-Black unit that became the Army’s 369th Infantry Regiment, known informally as the “Harlem Hellfighters.” In 1918, Johnson’s unit was attached to a French army unit and attacked on the front lines in the Argonne Forest, where Johnson saved lives and was awarded the French Croix de Guerre. The valor Johnson and other Harlem Hellfighters displayed during WWI is widely credited with helping to change public perception about African American military service.
Unable to find work due to war injuries, Johnson was destitute when he died in 1929. His family assumed he had been buried in a pauper’s field in Albany, New York, but decades later, researchers found that he had actually been buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. After his death, Johnson also was awarded both the Purple Heart and the Medal of Honor. He was called one of the “five bravest Americans” to serve in World War I by President Theodore Roosevelt.
“We are honored to partner with America250 on the November Salute,” said Dr. Matthew Naylor, President and CEO of the National WWI Museum and Memorial. “We are equally thrilled to be able to highlight the service of WWI Veteran, Sgt. Henry Johnson. Johnson served our country with valor that was only recognized by his country after his death. It is important that we bring his story and others like his to the forefront.”
America250 is a multiyear effort to commemorate the semiquincentennial, or 250th anniversary, of the United States. The purpose of the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission, created by Congress, and the corresponding America250 Foundation, is to catalyze a more perfect union by designing and leading the most comprehensive and inclusive celebration in our country’s history. America250 represents a coalition of public and private partners all working to create initiatives and programs that honor our first 250 years and inspire Americans to imagine our next 250. The commemoration period began in 2020, culminates on July 4, 2026, and officially concludes in 2027. For more information, visit www.america250.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
About National WWI Museum and Memorial
The National WWI Museum and Memorial is America’s leading institution dedicated to remembering, interpreting, and understanding the Great War and its enduring impact on the global community. Designated by Congress as America’s official World War I Museum and Memorial, the National WWI Museum and Memorial inspires thought, dialogue and learning to make the experiences of the Great War era meaningful and relevant for present and future generations. To learn more, visit https://www.theworldwar.org/.
About People’s Picture
The People’s Picture is a female led photography and design studio founded by artist Helen Marshall. As an artist-led studio practice we create photo mosaic artworks and installations at the leading edge of design and technology. Find out more: https://www.thepeoplespicture.com.
Rebecca Devine, firstname.lastname@example.org, 610-608-2618