Harmonica helps World War II survivor pay tribute to his fellow veterans

SURREY, England -- On this Veterans Day, we have the story of one World War II survivor honoring his fellow soldiers in a unique way.

We recently traveled with Peter DuPre to Brookwood American Cemetery on the outskirts of London. These days, few Americans make the trek to this sacred spot where hundreds of World War I heroes are buried. Men and women who died 100 years ago lay here, including eight Coloradans.

But DuPre, 95, comes here every chance he gets.

"My mother, World War I, my father, World War I, my three brothers and I, (World War II).  My grandson -- he's a fighter pilot right now," said DuPre. Military service is in his DNA. And so is music.

That's why, seated in the middle of the cemetery, surrounding by marble grave markers, he gave an impromptu concert. It was his way of saying 'thank you' to each man and woman buried at Brookwood. And his harmonica brought people there to tears.

"Well, all my memories go to the war, of course. For those that didn't make it, and I just can't help it," said World War II Marine veteran Jim Blaine of Denver as he choked back tears. "I appreciate honoring these people here."

DuPre came to this cemetery with other World War II veterans as part of a program with The Greatest Generations Foundation, a charity founded in Denver focused on honoring veterans of all U.S. wars and conflicts.

"This, to me, is a pathway. If I can make people cry, I don't mind doing that, especially in a place like this," DuPre said.

For him, everyday is Veterans Day. And everyday is Memorial Day, too.

"It's a great pleasure for me to be able to do this," DuPre said.

His only wish is that more Americans -- especially politicians -- would come to places like the cemetery to see the consequence of what veterans have been through.

"And I look around and one thought I have is, 'Who's listening?  Who's listening, for God's sake?' We can go from this cemetery to this cemetery... and all that's happening is there are thousands more (grave sites) that are being added. Who's listening? God bless us, we ought to quit one time," DuPre said.

Until then, DuPre won't quit paying tribute, in the one way he still can: With his harmonica.

DuPre has played his harmonica at the USS Arizona memorial at Pearl Harbor, in front of crowds of tens of thousands of people at sports venues and on national television.  He's even recorded an album in a Nashville studio.

AlertMe