Those that risked their lives in the past in order for us to have a future worth living for will always deserve and receive our respect, especially the brave men and women who served on behalf of America in World War II.
One of those fine fellas was Lawrence N. Brooks, a Black man who’s been credited with being the oldest WWII veteran in the U.S. Sadly that’s no more, following news that the 112-year-old battle hero has died as of Wednesday morning (Jan 5).
Brooks’s death was officially announced by the National WWII Museum and further confirmed by his daughter. Museum president and chief executive Stephen Watson spoke quite highly of the late supercentenarian, saying in a statement, “He proudly served our country during World War II, and returned home to serve his community and church. His kindness, smile and sense of humor connected him to generations of people who loved and admired him.”
More on the illustrious life of Lawrence Brooks and his career serving our country below, via NPR:
“Born in 1909, Brooks was one of 15 children and was raised in rural Louisiana and Mississippi. He was drafted into the U.S. Army a few weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor at age 31 when the military was still racially segregated.
“We had our tents, and the whites had their tents,” Brooks told the Military Times. “They were next to each other, like next door.”
Brooks spent his time during the war serving with the largely African American 91st Engineer Battalion, stationed in Australia, New Guinea and the Philippines.
For much of that time, Brooks was a driver, valet and cook for three officers, two lieutenants and a captain, the Army Times reported. He also helped build bridges, roads and airstrips. Eventually he earned the rank of Private 1st Class.”
After being discharged from the Army in August 1945 with his Private 1st Class ranking, Brooks worked as a forklift driver before retiring in his 60s. His life was also met with a handful of downfalls, including the destruction of his home due to Hurricane Katrina and losing his wife Leona soon after the 2005 disaster. His daughter Vanessa described him as “resilient” in a statement to AP News, also adding, “He’s been through a lot. He’s real tough, and that’s one thing I learned from him. If nothing else, he instilled in me, ‘Do your best and whatever you can’t do, it don’t make no sense to worry about it.’ I think that’s why he has lived as long as he has.”
We thank Lawrence N. Brooks for all that he contributed to our nation and for setting an astounding example within the Black community. May he rest in peace and his family find solace in the impact he left behind.
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