CBS Evening News Lawrence Brooks
Lawrence Brooks, the oldest living World War II veteran in America, turned 111 on Saturday.
According to CBS News and CNN, Lawrence rang in his milestone birthday with a socially-distanced celebration over the weekend outside the National WWII Museum, located in New Orleans near Brooks' home.
The museum's vocal trio, The Victory Belle, performed a rendition of "Happy Birthday" as the Aeroshell Aerobatic Team and the Big Easy Wing flew over the sky, CNN reported.
Brooks stood on his front porch and tipped his hat back as the planes flew above him. He also danced a two-step as The Victory Belles performed, according to NOLA.com.
During the ceremony and subsequent car parade, Brooks, wearing a New Orleans face mask, smiled and waved to the crowd, saying, “God bless all of you. Every one of you."
According to CBS News, when Brooks was asked what his secret is for living long, he said "it's simple. Serve God and be nice to people."
Happy 111th birthday to Lawrence Brooks!— Norah O'Donnell 🇺🇸 (@NorahODonnell) September 11, 2020
His secret to longevity? "Serve God and be nice to people." pic.twitter.com/bwVZilDqz6
Prior to the celebration, the museum said on its website that well-wishers could send birthday cards to the museum, which would be delivered to Brooks' house.
In total, the museum received almost 10,000 birthday cards from all 50 states
According to the museum, Brooks served in the predominately African-American 91st Engineer Battalion, stationed in New Guinea and then the Philippines during WWII. He was a support worker for officers in his battalion, performing any task asked of him.
Brooks eventually attained the rank of Private 1st Class.
In May, Brooks spoke to the National Geographic about his time in the war. “I had some good times and I had some bad times. I just tried to put all the good ones and the bad ones together and tried to forget about all of them."
Brooks has five children, five stepchildren, 12 grandchildren, and 23 great-grandchildren. His wife Leona did in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina.