ROCHESTER, NY (WXXI) – A World War II veteran who is known for his service and his harmonica playing is quickly gaining celebrity status in many other places around the world after a video of him went viral.
They often call him ‘Harmonica Pete,’ better known as 96-year-old Pete DuPre of Fairport, who is a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge, where he was a medic.
DuPre has often played his harmonica in public, particularly in recent years with the help of the Greatest Generations Foundation which helps honor veterans at memorial services and other venues.
But this particular performance, last Sunday at the U.S. women’s national soccer team game in New Jersey when he played the national anthem before more than 26,000, really caught fire, generating millions of views on social media.
“When I was playing, you feel it when you’re playing, when you’re there, the fact that it’s 30,000 people, never give it a thought, but everything just quieted down just like somebody put a blanket on the place and they all listened,” DuPre told WXXI News.
DuPre, who spoke with us just after a live appearance on “Fox & Friends” where he did an encore of his national anthem performance, is grateful for the opportunity to play before people.
“We’ve been able to travel and spread the word, I think, and the music, if you will, of the United States to the various places we go. And to be in that position at 96 years old, I value it very much,” DuPre said.
In terms of how he views his newfound celebrity, Dupre says, “for a little guy that grew up with a 50-cent harmonica that’s pretty good.”