Oldest WWII Veteran Remembered in Museum Service

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Household and associates gathered on the Nationwide WWII Museum on Saturday to recollect Lawrence Brooks, who was the oldest surviving World Warfare II veteran till his dying on Jan. 5 at age 112.

In the course of the service, Brooks’ flag-draped coffin was entrance and heart. The museum’s Victory Belles — who Brooks cherished to listen to carry out — had been amongst a number of to pay tribute to his life, harmoniously singing “Carry Each Voice and Sing” and “Wonderful Grace.” One other soloist sang a medley of songs, together with “Oh Freedom,” “America” and “Glory, Glory Hallelujah!”

The museum’s president and chief government, Stephen J. Watson, provided condolences to his household, noting that he was recognized on the museum as “Mr. Brooks.”

“This was his museum and we hope it felt like a second residence,” mentioned Watson, who described Brooks as a “beloved good friend” and a “mild soul who impressed throughout him.”

Watson mentioned Brooks garnered love and respect from many throughout the nation, noting the greater than 21,500 birthday playing cards he acquired in 2020 from folks in all 50 states and 30 nations.

“His secret to longevity — be good to folks. That optimistic angle serves as a philosophy all of us ought to embrace,” Watson mentioned. “Thanks for sharing him with us and letting us be part of your lives.”

Cedric Richmond, a senior advisor to President Joe Biden and former Louisiana congressman, additionally thanked Brooks’ household for permitting his participation within the memorial highlighting “a purpose-driven life.”

“As a result of he’s right here, I’m right here,” Richmond mentioned. “His blood, sweat and tears paved the way in which for me do all that I can do.”

Richmond additionally learn a letter from Biden and his spouse, Jill, to Brooks’ household.

“He might be remembered as a powerful man and a very good soldier,” Biden wrote.

Brooks was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1940. After Japan’s assault on Pearl Harbor, he was assigned to the principally Black 91st Engineer Basic Service Regiment stationed in Australia. The 91st was a unit that constructed bridges, roads and airstrips for planes. Brooks was assigned as a caretaker to 3 white officers — cooking, driving and caring for their garments.

Lt. Col. Patrick Sullivan, the commanding officer of the 91st, mentioned he by no means met Brooks, however was impressed nonetheless.

“It is astonishing to me how such a quick navy profession may have such an enduring influence on the nation,” Sullivan mentioned. “He served with honor and distinction.”

Sullivan famous that he did lots of analysis earlier than Saturday’s service, listening to Brooks’ oral historical past and recollections from his household and associates.

“The frequent thread,” Sullivan mentioned, “was love. He at all times mentioned ‘Be good to folks’ … he did extra than simply communicate it, he actually lived it. You remind us to be stronger than we had been yesterday.”

Brooks was discharged from the Army in August 1945 as a non-public first-class. When he returned from service, he labored as a forklift driver till retiring in his 60s. He has 5 kids, 5 stepchildren, and dozens of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He misplaced his spouse, Leona, shortly after Hurricane Katrina.

“Thanks for caring for me,” learn a tribute to Brooks’ daughter, Vanessa.

Following the service, a standard jazz procession was held as Brooks’ physique was transported to Mount Olivet Cemetery, the place he was laid to relaxation.

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