Veteran “Sparks” the Interest of St. Mark Student

STRATFORD—Joseph “Sparky” Minar, a sixth-grade student at St. Mark School in Stratford, read a news article about United States veteran and Louisiana native Lawrence Brooks, who recently celebrated his 112th birthday. Sparky clipped the write-up about the oldest living World War II veteran and brought it into school to share with his classmates.

Sparky also brought in a birthday card and a thank you card that he suggested the class sign and mail to Brooks in an extraordinary gesture of altruism and citizenship.

The class included the following note to Lawrence Brooks:

“All of us in the 6th grade at St. Mark School express our profound gratitude and deep appreciation for your life and service to our nation. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for your contributions to the struggle against fascism, authoritarianism, and militarism.”

“As his teacher, it gives me an unbelievable amount of pride to witness Sparky’s kindness, compassion, and patriotic spirit,” shared Matt Bonito, middle school history teacher at St. Mark School. “Sparky took the initiative of this incredible project completely on his own and our class and our school are a better place for it. I can’t wait to see how he impresses me next.”

St. Mark Principal Melissa Warner added to Bonito’s praise, “Sparky’s leadership, gratitude, and benevolence are examples of the moral character and faith development we promote at St. Mark School.”

Born in New Orleans in 1909, Brooks served as a support worker in the Army’s 91st Engineer Battalion, a majority African-American unit stationed in New Guinea and the Philippines during the war. He reached the rank of private first class.

As of 2020, only 325,574 of the 16 million who served in World War II are still alive and according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, we are losing more than 290 veterans a day.

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