Lawrence Brooks holds the distinction of being America’s oldest living World War II veteran, and a serviceman with that honor deserves a big celebration for his 111th birthday. So, on his big day — Sept. 12 — not even the COVID-19 pandemic was going to stop his admirers from making the day special.
The National World War II Museum gave Brooks a socially distant celebration worthy of a man with his service record and longevity. For the past five years, the museum has hosted a party in his honor. This year, the pandemic forced museum officials to think creatively and come up with something truly special while keeping the veteran safe. So, they brought the party to him at his New Orleans home.
The museum, which is also based in New Orleans, shared photos of the celebration on Twitter, including the banner and balloons they posted on the fence in front of his house — though that was just the start:
Happy 111th Birthday to Mr. Lawrence Brooks of New Orleans, LA! While we weren't able to have our usual birthday party at the Museum this year, we were able to host a socially distanced celebration that he could view safely from his porch. pic.twitter.com/DyzyWc0oCw
— National WWII Museum (@WWIImuseum) September 12, 2020
The birthday boy was able to step out on his porch and enjoy quite the party. It included the delivery of more than 10,000 birthday cards sent in from around the world and a birthday cake.
The museum’s vocal trio, the Victory Belles, serenaded the soldier as the AeroShell Aerobatic Team and the Big Easy Wing team performed a military flyover above Brooks’ home.
“It is such an honor to have the oldest living U.S. veteran of World War II living so close to our institution, and it was meaningful for us to continue to celebrate Lawrence Brooks and his incredible life in a safe manner this year,” the museum’s Amber Mitchell told Fox 8 Live.
“As we continue to lose members of The Greatest Generation, it is so important that we honor these men and women for their bravery and sacrifice while they are with us,” she said.
Brooks served as a private first class in the predominately Black 91st Engineer Batallion during World War II. He was stationed in New Guinea and the Philippines during the war. When he returned home got married, became a father of five children and a stepfather to five children. He now has 12 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren.
Congrats to Brooks and his entire family!