Happy birthday, Lawrence Brooks!
Lawrence Brooks turned a hundred and eleven years old on Saturday, which makes him the oldest living World War II veteran in America. According to CNN, Brooks celebrated his milestone birthday with a socially-distanced party outside the National WWII Museum, located in New Orleans near Brooks' home. The museum's vocal trio, known as The Victory Bell sang several songs for him. The Aeroshell Aerobatic Team and the Big Easy Wing also performed a military flyover to celebrate the occasion. The ceremony was followed by a car parade and Brooks, wearing a New Orleans face mask, smiled and waved to the crowd, saying, “God bless all of you. Every one of you."
Happy 111th birthday to Lawrence Brooks!— Norah O'Donnell 🇺🇸 (@NorahODonnell) September 11, 2020
His secret to longevity? "Serve God and be nice to people." pic.twitter.com/bwVZilDqz6
When asked what his secret to such a long life was, he answered, "it's simple. Serve God and be nice to people." Prior to his birthday, the museum had requested people to send in birthday cards to make his 111th birthday special. This year our birthday celebration of America’s oldest living WWII veteran Lawrence Brooks will look a little different. With the global pandemic, we must forgo our traditional get together in favor of some socially distanced fun. Mr. Brooks, a New Orleans native, will turn 111 this year and we are asking everyone to send in birthday cards to the Museum so that we can deliver them to his home.
Brooks served in the predominately African-American 91st Engineer Battalion. He was initially stationed in New Guinea and then the Philippines during WWII, as a support worker for officers. According to National Geographic, Brooks is proud of his military service but they weren't all good memories, because he just couldn't escape the racism. Brooks says he never discussed these inequalities with his fellow African-American service members. “Every time I think about it, I’d get angry, so the best thing I’d do is just leave it go,” he says. Brooks was raised in a Norwood, Louisiana, near Baton Rouge.
America's oldest living WW2 veteran turns 111 years old today. Thank you for your service!— Fifty Shades of Whey (@davenewworld_2) September 13, 2020
Happy birthday Lawrence Brooks!!! 🎉🎈 pic.twitter.com/ot5oikIOgi
He was one of 15 siblings, and now Brooks is a father of 5 children, 13 grandchildren, and 22 great-grandchildren. He lost his wife, Leona, to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. She died shortly after the couple was evacuated by helicopter from their home. “Hurricane Katrina took everything I owned, washed away everything,” he said last year. As for his military years, Brooks says he got to learn a lot. “I had some good times and I had some bad times,” Brooks says. “I just tried to put all the good ones and the bad ones together and tried to forget about all of them.”
Big thanks to the Commemorative Air Force - Big Easy Wing and Honda Aeroshell Teams for helping us celebrate Lawrence Brooks' 111th birthday with a flyover in honor of Mr. Brooks! pic.twitter.com/Ro2rygerNA— National WWII Museum (@WWIImuseum) September 12, 2020
Norma Sue Slaton shared on Facebook: Because of heroes like you sir, we are free!! While we laid under our warm blankets and ate with our families, you served our country, putting us first! You're my hero! Happy Birthday!!! Anne Rowson commented: Here's hoping your birthday has been better than you thought it would be 111years is a blessing may your life be blessed in god and your year be fruitful and amazing. Sean Case added: Happy birthday Mr. Brooks! Thank you for fighting the good fight to end fascism & being able to come home! Your efforts & your brothers are praiseworthy! May you be blessed by God!