Living a legacy: 112-year-old World War II veteran reflects on life

By Kennae Hunter
NABJ Black News & Views

Surviving World War II would leave any military veteran with a remarkable story to tell due to all they might endure. Today, one New Orleans man has the honor of being able to attest to his service in WWII while at the same time celebrating being the oldest veteran alive to serve in that war and being the oldest American citizen.  

Lawrence Brooks is a retired Private First Class veteran who served in the U.S. Army from 1940 to 1945 in a predominantly Black battalion stationed in New Guinea and the Philippines. 

Brooks recently celebrated his 112th birthday at his home in the Crescent City. When the vice president of the National WWII Museum in New Orleans was introduced to Brooks right before his 105th birthday, the museum began a tradition to throw Brooks a birthday party every year. 

“My father started talking about his military life when he was 105,” said Brooks’ daughter, Vanessa Brooks.

“That is when I got familiar with his military life because in my childhood I never remembered my father talking about his military life,” Vanessa Brooks continued. “He only talks about the good parts of the military. He doesn’t say anything about it and I know he had bad days because we all have good and bad days.” 

Vanessa Brooks said that if her father had not been drafted along with those who fought beside him, Americans would not be able to live the lives they have today.

When reflecting on his military experience, Vanessa Brooks said her father sums it up this way: “I had good times, I had bad times, but I put my good and bad together and try to forget about it.”

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