Pete DuPré, who’s known as “Harmonica Pete,” put his harmonica skills on display when he performed “Star Spangled Banner” at the U.S. women’s soccer game on May 26.
The musician also happens to be a 96-year-old World War II veteran, which added something even more special to the moment.
The singing of the national anthem always provides a time to remember what we stand for as a country, and it allows us to pause and honor those who lost their lives fighting for our country. Naturally, it was especially moving to hear the anthem so close to Memorial Day.
However, the fact that a WWII veteran was the man standing behind the microphone made this moment all the more meaningful and symbolic. Between his musical skills and his years of service, he is worthy of awe, and the crowd certainly recognized that.
As he concluded the song, the crowd erupted in applause.
A video of the full performance was posted to ESPN’s Twitter account:
— ESPN (@espn) May 26, 2019
The video has been viewed over three million times on Twitter alone, and many who have seen it couldn’t help but praise DuPré for his service and his talent.
Former soccer player Brandi Chastain pointed out that she “cried tears of joy and gratitude” upon seeing the moving performance:
Thank you Mr. DuPre for your wonderful rendition. Made me cry tears of joy and gratitude for your service and every other individual who decides to wear a uniform to put America’s safety and the safety of those around the world first.
— Brandi Chastain (@brandichastain) May 26, 2019
Twitter user @JeffreyVeilleu1 went so far as to call the moment “the best I’ve had as an American”:
One of the best moments I’ve had as an American !!!!!!!!
— Jeffrey Veilleux (@JeffreyVeilleu1) May 26, 2019
Others, such as Twitter user @SportsLA_OC, dubbed DuPré “a real American legend”:
I cried😭😭Beautiful performance from a real American legend
— OC’s “Idiotic” Opinions (@oc_opinions) May 26, 2019
And as for DuPré, he’s stunned by the attention the video is getting.
“You wouldn’t believe. That’s my reaction,” he told WHEC News. “The last two days have been absolutely phenomenal.”
He admitted to loving the attention, however.
“I like a pat on the back,” he told WHEC News. “I like that people say to you, ‘That was great. Or, ‘I enjoyed that’ or something like that. And that’s what’s happening. And at 96, that’s not too bad. That’s not too bad.”
He also doesn’t mind the awareness this raises for his fellow veterans.
“The 16 million Americans in World War II and they’re almost all gone,” he told the publication. “To be one of the survivors at this point is … it’s valuable time, extremely, to me. It’s for real, and that’s what happened. And it’s our story.”
So, he’ll keep playing his harmonica as long as we’ll let him because he’s got a message to spread to anyone who’ll listen. And its’ safe to say, he’s got quite a lot of fans — a country full of them, it seems — willing to lend an ear.