Lawrence Brooks is believed to be America's oldest living World War II veteran, and he'll celebrate his 111th birthday on September 12, 2020. Last year, Brooks was honored with a birthday celebration at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana. This year, museum officials aren't able to throw a birthday celebration due to COVID-19, so they're asking people to mail Brooks birthday cards instead.
"We just thought there has to be some way that we can still celebrate him in a way that is safe but also gets more people involved," museum spokesperson Amber Mitchell told CNN. "If we aren't able to gather in ways that we're used to, we can always invent new ways to connect or rediscover old ways, like you would with a birthday card."
Brooks served in a mostly African-American unit of the U.S. Army during WWII, the 91st Engineer Battalion, which was stationed in New Guinea and the Philippines. He served as a support worker from 1940 and 1945 and was a servant to three white officers in his battalion. By the end of his time served he reached the rank of private 1st class. He now has earned the title of oldest living WWII veteran.
The National WWII Museum has been celebrating the WWII veteran's birthdays since he turned 105. Richard Overton was previously the record holder for the nation's oldest living World War II veteran, but passed away at the age of 112.
"We absolutely love Mr. Brooks," the museum's vice president, Peter Crean, told FOX News. "We've told him, 'As long as you keep having birthdays, we are going to keep having birthday parties for you here.'"
"I've started to think about not having many birthdays left. But I'm not worried about it, because God has let me live this long already," Brooks said. "I think it's because I've always liked people so much. Oh yes, I do."
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Brooks retired in New Orleans at the age of 70, where he almost lost his life in Hurricane Katrina, which took his wife.
"Hurricane Katrina took everything I owned, washed away everything," Brooks told CBS News.
Brooks has had five children, 13 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren throughout his life. He credits his old age to going on long walks and chewing gum. Cheers to more birthdays Mr. Brooks!