Saturday, 21 Sep 2019

America’s oldest World War II veteran celebrates his milestone birthday in style

The man believed to be America’s oldest living World War II veteran celebrated a milestone this week, with friends, family and strangers alike showing up for the special day. 

Lawrence Brooks, who served as a support worker in the Army’s 91st Engineer Battalion and just turned 110 years old on Thursday, threw his birthday party at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, the city that he’s called home for the majority of his long life. 

Described as some by a “local celebrity,” Brooks had plenty of support during the event. CBS News reports that many people from the community — including many who had never even met the veteran — came out to celebrate. 

17 PHOTOSAmerica's oldest WWII vet, Lawrence Brooks, celebrates his 110th birthdaySee GalleryAmerica's oldest WWII vet, Lawrence Brooks, celebrates his 110th birthdayWorld War II veteran Lawrence Brooks sports a lipstick kiss on his cheek, planted by a member of the singing group Victory Belles, as he celebrates his 110th birthday at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. Brooks was born Sept. 12, 1909, and served in the predominantly African-American 91st Engineer Battalion, which was stationed in New Guinea and then the Philippines during World War II. He was a servant to three white officers in his battalion. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)World War II veteran Lawrence Brooks holds a photo of him taken in 1943, as he celebrates his 110th birthday at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. Brooks was born Sept. 12, 1909, and served in the predominantly African-American 91st Engineer Battalion, which was stationed in New Guinea and then the Philippines during World War II. He was a servant to three white officers in his battalion. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)World War II veteran Lawrence Brooks holds his hand to his heart during the singing of the National Anthem as he celebrates his 110th birthday at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. Brooks was born Sept. 12, 1909, and served in the predominantly African-American 91st Engineer Battalion, which was stationed in New Guinea and then the Philippines during World War II. He was a servant to three white officers in his battalion. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)Edith Francisco, a fellow church member, greets World War II veteran Lawrence Brooks as he celebrates his 110th birthday at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. Brooks was born Sept. 12, 1909, and served in the predominantly African-American 91st Engineer Battalion, which was stationed in New Guinea and then the Philippines during World War II. He was a servant to three white officers in his battalion. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)The Victory Belles hold the hands of World War II veteran Lawrence Brooks as they sing him happy birthday celebrating his 110th birthday at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. Brooks was born Sept. 12, 1909, and served in the predominantly African-American 91st Engineer Battalion, which was stationed in New Guinea and then the Philippines during World War II. He was a servant to three white officers in his battalion. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)The Victory Belles plant kisses on World War II veteran Lawrence Brooks after singing him happy birthday, celebrating his 110th birthday at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. Brooks was born Sept. 12, 1909, and served in the predominantly African-American 91st Engineer Battalion, which was stationed in New Guinea and then the Philippines during World War II. He was a servant to three white officers in his battalion. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)World War II veteran Lawrence Brooks holds a dog tag honoring him as the oldest living World War II veteran, as he celebrates his 110th birthday at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. Brooks was born Sept. 12, 1909, and served in the predominantly African-American 91st Engineer Battalion, which was stationed in New Guinea and then the Philippines during World War II. He was a servant to three white officers in his battalion. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)The Victory Belles sing the National Anthem as World War II veteran Lawrence Brooks celebrates his 110th birthday at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. Brooks was born Sept. 12, 1909, and served in the predominantly African-American 91st Engineer Battalion, which was stationed in New Guinea and then the Philippines during World War II. He was a servant to three white officers in his battalion. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)The Victory Belles hold the hands of World War II veteran Lawrence Brooks as they sing him happy birthday celebrating his 110th birthday at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. Brooks was born Sept. 12, 1909, and served in the predominantly African-American 91st Engineer Battalion, which was stationed in New Guinea and then the Philippines during World War II. He was a servant to three white officers in his battalion. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)World War II veteran Lawrence Brooks acknowledges the crowd as he celebrates his 110th birthday at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. Brooks was born Sept. 12, 1909, and served in the predominantly African-American 91st Engineer Battalion, which was stationed in New Guinea and then the Philippines during World War II. He was a servant to three white officers in his battalion. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)World War II veteran Lawrence Brooks receives a dog tag honoring whims the oldest living World War II veteran as he celebrates his 110th birthday at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. Brooks was born Sept. 12, 1909, and served in the predominantly African-American 91st Engineer Battalion, which was stationed in New Guinea and then the Philippines during World War II. He was a servant to three white officers in his battalion. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)The Victory Belles hold the hands of World War II veteran Lawrence Brooks as they sing him happy birthday celebrating his 110th birthday at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. Brooks was born Sept. 12, 1909, and served in the predominantly African-American 91st Engineer Battalion, which was stationed in New Guinea and then the Philippines during World War II. He was a servant to three white officers in his battalion. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)The Victory Belles hold the hands of World War II veteran Lawrence Brooks as they sing him happy birthday celebrating his 110th birthday at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. Brooks was born Sept. 12, 1909, and served in the predominantly African-American 91st Engineer Battalion, which was stationed in New Guinea and then the Philippines during World War II. He was a servant to three white officers in his battalion. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)Edith Francisco, a fellow church member, greets World War II veteran Lawrence Brooks as he celebrates his 110th birthday at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. Brooks was born Sept. 12, 1909, and served in the predominantly African-American 91st Engineer Battalion, which was stationed in New Guinea and then the Philippines during World War II. He was a servant to three white officers in his battalion. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)World War II veteran Lawrence Brooks holds a photo of him taken in 1943, as he celebrates his 110th birthday at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. Brooks was born Sept. 12, 1909, and served in the predominantly African-American 91st Engineer Battalion, which was stationed in New Guinea and then the Philippines during World War II. He was a servant to three white officers in his battalion. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)The Victory Belles plant kisses on World War II veteran Lawrence Brooks after singing him happy birthday, celebrating his 110th birthday at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. Brooks was born Sept. 12, 1909, and served in the predominantly African-American 91st Engineer Battalion, which was stationed in New Guinea and then the Philippines during World War II. He was a servant to three white officers in his battalion. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)World War II veteran Lawrence Brooks holds his hand to his heart during the singing of the National Anthem as he celebrates his 110th birthday at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. Brooks was born Sept. 12, 1909, and served in the predominantly African-American 91st Engineer Battalion, which was stationed in New Guinea and then the Philippines during World War II. He was a servant to three white officers in his battalion. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)Up Next

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The party was full of memories, laughter and respect for Brooks’ service. At one point, The Victory Belles, a singing group specializing in 1940s music, presented him with a song and a birthday card — as well as a few kisses on the cheek.

“We absolutely love Mr. Brooks,” museum vice president Peter Crean told the Times-Picayune. “We’ve told him, ‘As long as you keep having birthdays, we are going to keep having birthday parties for you here.'”

Guests came bearing cupcakes and other gifts, with many stopping by to shake Brooks’ hand. 

“That makes me feel good,” Brooks said. “Yes, indeed it does.”

Brooks, who was born in 1909, is one of less than 500 verified supercentenarians — a term of those aged 110 or older — worldwide. He’s done a lot during throughout his years, including having five children, 13 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren. 

“I’ve started to think about not having many birthdays left,” Brooks told the Times-Picayune. “But I’m not worried about it, because God has let me live this long already.”

The veteran still has plenty of plans though. He told the Times-Picayune that he plans to attend the Super Bowl this February — that is, if the New Orleans Saints are playing.

And while he’s unsure how much time he has left, he said he thinks he knows the reason he’s made it this far. 

“I think it’s because I’ve always liked people so much. Oh yes, I do,” he told the Times-Picayune. 

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