MAUMELLE, Ark. – Monday was a very special birthday celebration for World War II veteran Leville Stephens as he turned 101 years old. Although he has been alive for over a century, he says he still has more to see.
Stephens was born Dec. 26, 1921, and said he never thought he would grow all the way to the age he is now.
“I feel like I’m in my 60’s and 70’s,” Stephens said.
Stephens said his youthful spirit comes from how he treats others.
“It’s the way I treat people and they treat me and that just keeps my momentum changing in the right direction,” Stephens said.
His granddaughter Jessica Black said she is amazed at how her grandfather can still walk around, sometimes without the help of his walker.
“It’s amazing because it’s like walking history,” Black said.
Stephens is walking history for his granddaughter because he was drafted in 1941 into the Army to fight in World War ll and served until 1946.
“I saw a lot of them that didn’t come back, I saw stuff you wouldn’t believe,” Stephens said.
Stephens said he was part of an all-black infantry regiment and battalion.
“I don’t blame anyone for whatever they did or how they treated me. It didn’t matter,” Stephens said.
Stephens said he is happy to have loved ones around him and feels proud to still be able to wear his uniform.
“I feel like I earned this in this country to put this uniform on,” Stephens said.
Stephen’s wife Hattie said one of the reasons she fell in love with her husband was because of his character.
“He is a very good person, and has a very good heart,” Stephens said.
He said he feels blessed to have lived a full and joyous life. He said he wishes he could see more change in the future.
“I would like to see not just anybody, but all people get along,” Stephens said.