This article appeared in the May 28, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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With harmonica, veteran reminds listeners of message behind anthem

Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire/AP
World War II veteran ‘Harmonica Pete’ DuPré plays the ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ prior to the U.S. versus Mexico game at Red Bull Arena on May 26 in Harrison, N.J.

I’ve witnessed the power of music. The performer begins to play and a hush falls over the audience. There’s a sense of soulfulness, deeper than beauty, that in that moment unites people in rapt attention, because they know they are witnessing something extraordinary.

On Sunday, before an exhibition match of the U.S. women’s national soccer team, World War II veteran Peter DuPré accomplished that with “The Star-Spangled Banner” and his harmonica.

Sporting a cap boldly emblazoned “World War II Veteran,” playing a slow rendition that added color and notes to the familiar version, the nonagenarian transcended the moment.

On the eve of Memorial Day and less than two weeks from the 75th anniversary of D-Day, he was playing to honor the country he served all those years ago. And for a nation that sometimes seems at war with itself, the former U.S. Army medic was reminding us of another era when everyday people served and sacrificed with a unity of purpose that would seem surprising today. Behind all those chants of USA, do we remember that’s shorthand for the United States of America?

It turns out the women’s soccer team had met Mr. DuPré before, when he and they were at Normandy Beach in January. By this morning, accolades for Sunday’s performance were pouring in on social media. “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,” tweeted former star Brandi Chastain.

Now, onto today’s lineup of stories, which includes a look at the challenges of Afghan peace talks, what it’s like to report from Capitol Hill, and the work of a bridge-builder between Mexicans in the U.S. and their home country.

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This article appeared in the May 28, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 05/28 edition