GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - World War II veteran George Roberts is celebrating his 100th birthday on Monday and his family wanted to make sure it was special.
Roberts enjoyed the beautiful weather Sunday as cars drove by, wishing him a happy birthday and bringing gifts.
The drive-by celebration was hosted by Roberts’ family, who said they just wanted to make sure to honor him as not only an American hero but also as a man who spent years giving back to his community.
Roberts served in the U.S. Army Air Forces during WWII, earning a Purple Heart. Once he finished serving, he would go on to serve his community in various roles over the years.
His daughter Ellen Roberts said that she’s proud that her father set a good example in the community of Gulfport.
“We wanted to honor not just the fact he’s 100, but to honor the kind of life he’s lived,” said Ellen. “He’s a man of integrity and a man who serves. He’s done it throughout his whole life. After he left the Air Force, he began working more with kids than he has ever before. He coached basketball, he served meals after Katrina to all the volunteers who were doing the rebuilding. He’s been active in his church all these years, and he’s given blood through Red Cross. He’s done all these things to be a pillar in the community.”
George Roberts reflected on his life and said that he always tries to leave a mark on everyone he encounters.
“The best thing that I’ve learned is that most people are good,” said George. “All the people that I’ve met in my life were good, and 99 percent of them treated me with respect. I hope the relationship was treated both ways.”
Ellen said her dad is a man who always set an example for his children and grandchildren.
“He didn’t just teach us with words, he showed us,” said Ellen. “Whenever something needed to be done, he would always be there ready to help. He would always look for opportunities.’
George said he just wants to be known for volunteering his time to different organizations in the hopes that it will encourage others to do it too.
“It started when I was five years old,” he recalled. “I used to do trash for a lady every Saturday and she would want to pay me 10 cents, but I wouldn’t take the money. I said, ‘Ma’am, you’re doing me a favor.’ Volunteering is voluntary. There’s no money involved and it’s human kindness. Everyone who is capable of doing something should do it if it doesn’t hurt them in any way. It’s probably something the United States really needs at this time.”
Roberts said even though he isn’t a spring chicken anymore, he still takes on the day with a smile.
“I don’t really feel a whole lot different at 100 than I did at 90,” he said with a smile. “I know I can’t do some of the things that I used to do, but I still want to get up in the morning. I still want to brush my teeth and I still want to greet the day. I want to keep my friends and family, and I just want them to know I’ve tried my best in everything I do. I hope they’re proud.”
Roberts has been a longtime member at Trinity United Methodist Church in Gulfport.