Here are the last voices from WWII
By Debra Adams Simmons, HISTORY Executive Editor
Sometimes when people talk to Lawrence Brooks he has to tell them “there’s no need to yell, I can hear you just fine.” At 110 years old, he understands that some may think his hearing is fading. It’s not. The oldest living veteran of World War II, Brooks credits a healthy diet, loving people and the Lord for his longevity.
Brooks, on the cover of this month's National Geographic magazine, is one of 300,000 living U.S. veterans of World War II. Two other secrets to his vitality? Long walks and chewing gum, he told Michelle Miller of CBS News.
Brooks served in the mostly African American 91st Engineering Battalion in Australia, New Guinea, and the Philippines, working as a cook and valet. He was among 1.2 million black World War II soldiers. Many of those soldiers faced the challenge of the Jim Crow South when they returned home. That included being treated as second-class citizen and being denied the right to vote. The Civil Rights Act wouldn’t come for another 20 years, Chelsea Barsted writes for NatGeo.
In 2005, Brooks survived an unspeakable tragedy. He lost his wife, Leona Brooks, shortly after the couple was evacuated by helicopter from their home during Hurricane Katrina. “Hurricane Katrina took everything I owned, washed away everything,” he said last year.
Still, Brooks is upbeat. He was a guest of the New Orleans Saints during the 2017 Super Bowl and looks forward to the annual birthday parties that the National World War II Museum in New Orleans has been hosting since 2014.
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Today in a minute
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Instagram photo of the day
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The big takeaway
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In a few words
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The last glimpse
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