World War II veteran Pete DuPre traveled to his mecca in February—West Point Military Academy. According to CBS News, this ninety-six-year-old was invited to the Army vs. Navy basketball game between West Point and the Naval Academy. He wasn’t just a spectator, though, he was there to perform. Known as “Harmonica Pete,” he acquired his first harmonica as a boy during the Great Depression.
Pete told CBS News, “So it was 1933, and my dad ‘scared up’—that’s when you were trying to get extra money—he scared up fifty cents and bought me a harmonica.” Even though he had no musical knowledge, DuPre taught himself how to play and has kept a harmonica with him ever since. Even if he is on the phone, on a train, or wakes in the middle of the night, he makes music with the harmonica.
He played it while serving as a WW II army medic during the Battle of the Bulge. However, now he serves his country in a different way. He travels to sporting events, funerals, parades, and charity benefits to play his harmonica. The "Star Spangled Banner" is a favorite tune. The Greatest Generation Foundation helps fund DuPre’s travels when he has a performance, including one before a Women’s World Cup match in France.
His daughter drove him to Rochester, New York, to the military academy overlooking the Hudson River. As he made his way to the court, students and teachers stopped to shake his hand, thank him for his service, and inquire about his harmonica. DuPre isn’t nervous and loves the attention. Before he performed he joked that he might be the most patriotic person in the room—which was difficult to achieve since both Army and Navy academies were present! The crowd went wild when he finished playing. He took his hat off, basked in the praise, and sat back in his wheelchair to be led off the court.
When I was in grade school I took piano lessons, and in junior- and senior-high schools I played the French horn. I very much enjoyed being in the marching band that performed at football games. Even though I don’t play musical instruments anymore, I still receive great pleasure from attending concerts of any kind, as well as listening to music on the radio. Dear reader, in what way is music a part of your life? All comments are most welcome.