He even had the Knicks fans cheering.
When 96-year-old Peter DuPré took the court Sunday at New York’s Madison Square Garden, the crowd knew they were about to hear “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
What they probably didn’t know what that they were going to get one of the proudest but most plaintive versions of that stirring song any one of them had ever heard.
But as DuPré has proven at sporting events on the national and international stage before: When it comes to “Harmonica Pete,” that’s exactly what you get.
Check out DuPré’s Sunday night performance here. You’ll have the tune in your ears for hours.
96 year-old World War II veteran Pete DuPré played the national anthem on his harmonica before the Knicks game Sunday ?? pic.twitter.com/hwoVs8F9C1
— ESPN (@espn) November 11, 2019
The pre-Veterans Day performance was far from the first time DuPre has been the center of attention.
In May, he helped send the U.S. Women’s National Team off to their ultimately successful World Cup campaign by playing the national anthem before the USWNT’s final exhibition game, against Mexico, in Harrison, New Jersey.
That rendition went viral, too, drawing more than 9 million viewers on Facebook and Twitter within two days, The Washington Post reported.
There’s no doubt the views were powered by the combination of talent, power and reverence that comes through from the first note to the last.
DuPré, who served as a surgical and medical technician in England the war, has been playing harmonica all his life, according to The Post, since his father managed to save 50 cents during the Depression to buy him one when he was a boy.
Neither could have imagined DuPré would one day be entertaining national audiences with that boyhood skill.
And as the reaction to his performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Madison Square Garden showed, the Fairport, New York, man has still got it.
This should be recognized as one of the best sporting event National Anthems ever. Period.
— BelieveLand (@BrownsMac) November 11, 2019
“This should be recognized as one of the best sporting event National Anthems ever,” one Twitter user wrote.
If this doesn’t give u chills idk what does !!
— Ryan (@Rp017) November 11, 2019
Brings a year to my eye. Thanks to all the troops who courageously laid down their lives and gave their time and efforts to serve and protect this country ?
— SJ Smith (@SJSmith89577520) November 11, 2019
Naturally, fans of the dismal New York Knicks, staring straight at yet another season of basketball frustration, might have been thrilled by DuPré’s performance too, but that didn’t stop some mordant humor from slipping through.
This the Knicks #1 highlight of the season so far
— MINKAH FITZ ? (PIT 5-4) (@JustWantARing) November 11, 2019
Honestly a disgrace to my dude for having to go to a Knicks game, the man went through ww2 he deserves better ?
— Owen ?? (@miamiheat202020) November 11, 2019
Can he play Forward?
— REST IN PEACE @ronology_ (2-8) (@ronology2_) November 11, 2019
It’s good they’re keeping their sense of humor, too.
The Knicks lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers 108-87.
But, man, they have a great “Star-Spangled Banner” to remember it by.
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