Lawrence Brooks has seen a lot in his lifetime — 112 years’ worth of it, to be exact.
The New Orleans native recently celebrated his 112th birthday. However, what makes this year extra special is that Brooks is also the world’s oldest living World War II veteran.
The war vet spent the big day on Clara Street with a full-on, drive-by party organized by the National World War Two Museum. Representatives from the museum say they wanted the birthday to be one Brooks wouldn’t forget.
“If you ask Mr. Brooks why have you lived so long, he says his motto is ‘be good to people,’ ” said Peter Crean, vice president of Education and Access at the National WWII Museum. “It’s not only what we represent. He is the oldest veteran in the United States, so he represents an entire generation.”
The museum traditionally hosts an annual event for Brooks, but it was brought to him for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event included a live performance from the museum’s vocal trio, The Victory Belles, a Jeep parade, and more from local New Orleans musicians.
The City of New Orleans also recognized Brooks’ birthday with an official proclamation.
Brooks was born in Norwood, Louisiana, in 1909, and was drafted into the Army in 1940. As a member of the 91st Engineer Battalion, a battalion primarily made up of Black soldiers, Brooks helped build roads and bridges for the Allies and worked in mapmaking.
Brooks was honorably discharged in 1945, according to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. He returned to New Orleans, where he worked as a forklift operator until he retired in 1979.
People on social media sent Brooks warm wishes, including Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, who wrote on Twitter, “Happy 112th birthday to Mr. Lawrence Brooks, America’s oldest living World War II veteran and a proud Louisianan.”
He added, “Mr. Brooks, the entire state of Louisiana thanks you for your service and we all wish you a joyous birthday. #lagov.”
Another person commented, “Happy 112th birthday to Mr. Lawrence Brooks, America’s oldest living World War II veteran. This is what we called having longlife. Happy Birthday, Sir. God is good to you Sir, You are still looking strong and vibrant. God bless you, sir.”
“Happy Birthday: Thanks for serving during a time when you and people that look like you didn’t have basic human rights right here at home!” wrote a third person. “Real American history!”