Essay Example on The Army’s 369th Infantry better known as the Harlem Hellfighters

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What would you do if you were in a war trench watching your connreads dying of gunfire and sickness during World War I would you give up on the idea of living or would you fight for your life your friends and your family The Army s 369th Infantry better known as the Harlem Hellfighters were one of the fiercest regiments in the Army during World War I This all black regiment was one of only a few that saw combat because most were discriminated against and not trusted to fight Their valiant effort helped many people realize that racism is wrong The regiment also had one of the best military bands in history making an impact on European culture World war I was fought from 1914 to 1919 The U S didn't join until 1917 when U S ships were being attacked by German submarines According to War History Online when citizens were volunteering for the Army African American people were told to tear off the corner of the application so that they could be identified and separated from their white counterparts According to The Harlem Hellfighters Fighting Racism in the Trenches the Harlem Hellfighters fought 191 consecutive days under enemy fire in France including the Battle of Belleau Wood This was the longest time on the front lines of any group of American soldiers in World War I The Harlem Hellfighters got their name from German soldiers who were afraid of how ruthlessly they fought


The Harlem Hellfighters were on of the fiercest regiments in World War I According to the online publication Reacho During the Meuse Argonne Offensive which began on September 26 1918 the Harlem Hellfighters captured the town of Ripont and pushed forward one kilometre the following day By the end of the month they had advanced to a critical position near Séchault capturing a key railroad junction The battles left 851 soldiers in the regiment dead or wounded The entire regiment was awarded the Cross Of War for their feats of bravery by the French government The Harlem Hellfighters never lost an inch of ground or a single man to capture during the 191 days they were on the front lines According to the online publication Reacho their commander Colonel Hayward said My men never retire they go forward or they die An example of their brave actions included the time Henry Johnson and Neadom Roberts turned back a German raiding party of 24 men According to The Gilder Lehrman Institute for american history For his actions Johnson received the Croix de Guerre with Palm the highest level at which the honor is given Not until 1996 did Johnson receive an American medal the Purple Heart followed by the Distinguished Service Cross in 2003 and the Medal of Honor in 2015 the last only after years of intense advocacy and fact finding The regiment s bravery in battle helped save the French and brought them victory in many different battles against the Germans According to the National Archives

Though wounded they refused to surrender fighting on with whatever weapons were at hand In addition to their bravery the Harlem Hellfighters also stood out because they were the first all black regiment to serve in the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I The regiment faced discrimination routinely reflecting the culture in America at that time Most African American troops were put to work on time consuming manual labor jobs such as digging ditches and making roads The Harlem Hellfighters were deployed to France to do these manual labor tasks even though they were trained for combat before they left America The French though were desperate for troops and American officials agreed to put the Harlem Hellfighters under their control Because they were not trusted to fight alongside Americans they became one of the French s greatest assets in World War I According to the Oxford African American Studies Center The sacrifice of African American soldiers such as these certainly did not end racism at home or abroad but it showed the world that their patriotism and heroism unquestioningly matched that of their white counterparts The Harlem Hellfighters had a very significant cultural impact throughout the world through the music played by the 369th Infantry s band 



The leader of the band was James Reese Europe a skilled violinist and piano player during his youth When he enlisted for the war he and his friend formed a regimental jazz band In France Europe and the band introduced the sounds of American ragtime to European audiences The band often played in areas where troops were on a one week leave Europe and his band played in numerous places and programs that featured Sousa's Stars and Stripes Forever and plantation melodies and finished with Memphis Blues invariably brought down the house according to James Reese Europe and the Harlem Hellfighters Band by Glenn Watkins According to Jim Europe's 369th Infantry Hellfighters Band by Floyd Levin After the war Europe proudly led his Hellfighters band in the nation's first parade of returning World War heroes Shortly after arriving in the U S Europe and his band recorded eleven tunes for the Pathé Freres Phonograph Company Only two months after recording these tunes James was murdered by one of his band members who felt he was being treated unfairly The funeral march took place in New York the first public memorial service held for a black person in the city's history according to Levin So in conclusion the Harlem Hellfighters fought courageously and bravely having a huge impact on World War I in France The regiment broke racial barriers becoming one of the few all black regiments to see combat in World War I In addition the regiments band impacted musical culture by introducing Europeans to American ragtime music Therefore the Harlem Hellfighters were extraordinary examples of bravery and courageousness on and off the battlefield


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