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Harmonica Pete

On Sunday, November 11, 2019, 96-year-old World War II veteran Pete DuPré, better known as “Harmonica Pete,” performed his rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Madison Square Garden. DuPré was greeted with cheers and stood briefly from his wheelchair at center court although a silence overtook the crowd once he began to perform with members of the military close by and holding an American flag. There was a thunderous eruption of applause when the veteran hit the final note, and the Washington Post reported that more than 9 million people had watched video of the performance.

Knicks player RJ Barrett presented DuPré with a customized Knicks harmonica before the game. DuPré has actually performed the national anthem in a number of different sports settings, including a Minnesota Vikings-Oakland Raiders game this past September and a United States women’s national soccer team exhibition game against Mexico attended by more than 26,00 fans at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey in May.

After his wife of 70 years, Jane, died in 2014 at age 90, DuPré got involved in The Greatest Generations Foundation that honors veterans for their service and began performing at major military memorial services in Europe and the United States before thousands. His moments have included the 70th anniversary of the Siege of Bastogne and the 74th and 75th commemorations of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, including a rendition of “America The Beautiful” inside the USS Arizona Memorial that was widely shared on social media.

The Knicks stated that DuPré served as a medic in the United States Army 114th General Hospital Unit in Kidderminster, England, throughout World War II. He enlisted in the Army at 17 years of age after both of his parents died, and then served three years overseas. DuPré treated wounded soldiers at the Battle of the Bulge, a last-ditch effort by the Germans in the wake of D-Day to alter the course of the war, which he described as “an awful, awful thing.” 

“I am a harmonica player,” DuPré told The Washington Post. “I don’t know a darn thing about music, but I know how to make a harmonica talk.”

DuPré is a resident of Fairport, a small village east of Rochester. The village had a population of just over 5,000 people in 2010.

DuPré told the Post that he got his first harmonica in elementary school, and he turned to a new school’s harmonica band to make friends. He has now performed at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and the Staples Center in Los Angeles, and he released a Christmas album entitled “A Christmas Gift for You from Harmonica Pete” last year. He also recorded an album of 40 pop hits.

Only about 1 million of the 16 million Americans that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) says participated in World War II are still alive today. According to Forbes, about 340 WWII veterans die every day. DuPré expressed his gratitude in being a WWII survivor, describing his time as being very valuable to him.

DuPré was invited to the 50th anniversary of Charlie Company in Las Vegas and played taps as names of the deceased who served in the Vietnam War infantry unit were read. He is also a regular at airport receptions welcoming home veterans on Honor Flight trips to Washington, D.C., stating that many veterans coming back during the Vietnam War did not get such a reception, and the effects of the crowds on returning veterans can be profound.

DuPré now owns several dozen harmonicas, including one purchased 50 years ago for $18.50. The iconic Hohner company presented him with two harmonicas valued at $400 each in 2016.



From a Sandwich Box to Staring Preschool

Sarrah M



Amazing things can happen in modern medicine, and helping premature babies survive to full development and ultimately growing enough to have a normal life almost seems like pulling off a miracle. For one mother who’s baby girl was born premature, that’s exactly what her doctors pulled off.

Darcey Clegg today is now age four, all energy, big eyes and questions about the world like any preschooler getting ready for a jump to kindergarten. However, her first days were very different. At birth, Darcey only measured about the size of a sugar packet, weighing barely one pound and five ounces. Brought into the world by an emergency c-section, Darcey’s odds of surviving were not very good at all. Serious sports betters have taken on much risker-sounding positions on events that were conservative compared to the odds of Darcey’s survival.

As a three-month old preemie, Darcey represented the premier challenge at the moment for the Royal Oldham Hospital’s staff in Greater Manchester. The pediatrics team was already a well-trained group of specialists in their respective fields, but trying to keep a preemie the size of Darcey alive was the extreme challenge. They were very realistic amongst themselves about the possibilities, so when Darcey was able to not only live weeks after birth but a full two months before her hospital discharge, everybody was genuinely shocked.

All of that heart-stretching event now seems so far in the past for Gill Glegg, Darcey’s mother. Instead, she’s enjoying watching and experiencing Darcey’s first day going to school, beaming proud of her vivacious daughter’s grip on life and early childhood. Gill will never forget the size of her daughter those first few, harrowing days of life, almost like reflecting back on a dream the next day. The emotions, no surprise, tend to be overwhelming for Darcey’s mom.

Originally, Gill’s pregnancy seemed normal. It wasn’t until the 28th week during a routine maternity checkup that issues were spotted. At that point, the doctors saw negative signs that Darcey, as a fetus, was not receiving enough blood flow. Something was wrong with Gill’s placenta, the life-preserving organ that was Darcey’s physical connection to her mother. As soon as the problem was identified, Gill went from preparing to come off of work as a caterer to suddenly being an emergency patient under high monitoring and being prepped for surgery. It was the operation or losing Darcey, and everyone was in agreement Darcey needed to be saved.

Even Gill, as much as she was already attached to her unborn child, had little hope Darcey would make it at the time. However, when Gill heard her daughter’s crying when brought into the open air during the surgery, the mother wanted her daughter to live. Darcey was immediately connected to life-preserving equipment and had to have blood transfusions regularly to develop and build up a normal level of internal functions missing from being born early.

However, despite the above, Darcey did grow, develop and has now turned into a beaming, normal four-year-old kid bubbly about her new friends at school and being a living dream for her mother. To Darcey, however, her survival doesn’t even register. All she thinks about is what school is like and seeing her friends every day in class.

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A Coyote Is Rescued After Trying To Go For A Swim In San Francisco Bay

Sarrah M



Most folks who visit Fisherman’s Wharf and the Pier 39 area of San Francisco City tend to do it on the weekend. So, for the locals, the weekdays are far better times to go for a walk, avoiding crowds and congestion, and having an open area to relax and destress. However, on a given Thursday in the middle of the week, a coyote pup somehow managed to find her way onto the urban San Francisco peninsula and then take an unhealthy dip into the San Francisco Bay’s cold waters.

The coyote has been roaming the City streets for a while, likely eating out of trash cans and similar, given how much opportunity there is in the City for scavenging. However, unlike rural areas, cities have full departments dedicated to catching stray animals and stopping them from becoming a problem for residents. So, soon enough, this particular coyote pup had an unwanted fan club in the form of the City’s animal control chasing her down. In the midst of that pursuit, the coyote pup took a wrong turn and thought to evade the control officers by jumping off the pier. The shock on the animal’s face will likely never be recorded, but she did end up in the cold water pretty quickly, to the amusement of some local seals.

The whole chase got started because the coyote got herself stuck in a resident’s backyard without a clear way out. San Francisco inner city backyards are fairly small, about the size of most family rooms in a home in most cases, so the residents were likely freaked out to suddenly find a snapping stray dog in their yard. By the time officers arrived, however, the coyote was gone. It appeared next when moving at an erratic pace in the area of Pier 39. The chase was on. The coyote was actively afraid of humans and even got herself wedged between dock parts at one point. With the officers closing in, the coyote panicked, got free and then took her leap for freedom, or a cold bath.

Not used to swimming, the coyote was immediately struggling, just trying to keep above the water and figure out where to go. A nearby boat closed in and one of the animal control officers jumped onto it to reach in and snag the coyote with a control lasso. Soon enough, the pup was out of the drink and firmly secured in the back of an animal control truck. Fortunately, however, the pup wasn’t going to maximum security. Instead, it was checked out by the city veterinarian crew, warmed up again due to suffering from hypothermia, and eventually relocated to a wild area likely south of the city and away from people.

Given the experience, it’s likely the coyote pup will never venture anywhere close to San Francisco neighborhoods again, but the animal was a bit of a different experience for the control officers. Dog-like but wiry, coyotes are extremely fast, smart, and resourceful in surviving. Folks had their hands full just trying to corral a young female in this case. And, it’s not every day they get fished out of the Bay either.

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Senior Citizen Saved After Cat’s Meow Alerts Searchers to Ravine

Danielle S



Over the years, you’ve heard of dogs saving their owners, but a feline has proven that it doesn’t matter what type of pet you are; love conquers every situation.

It was the case for an older adult who fell deep into a ravine, and residents would not have located the woman had it not been for some seriously loud meows from her dear pet that drew the attention of community members and rescue operators.

Cats can be aloof and prefer to do whatever they desire. One cat, however, has become something of a hero after alerting rescuers to the site where its owner had fallen into a ravine.

On Saturday, crews were already searching for a missing 83-year-old woman in Bodmin, Cornwall, when neighbors helping in the search for the woman heard her pet cat Piran meowing and followed the sound.

The woman had fallen a ravine with “complicated access and uneven terrain,” according to the report, and the woman had even slipped through some barbed wire.

The older woman had come to a halt in the middle of a creek. Piran was “very persistent,” according to one of the witnesses, according to BBC News. “This was unusual,” the owner of the farm where they found Piran told media representatives.

Tamar Longmuir told reporters that, “The cat is quite loyal to its owner, and he was walking to and fro in the gateway with nonstop meowing, so I decided to go and search the maize field.”

After that, Longmuir went to the field and began calling the woman’s name. Longmuir’s cows first replied, but she later stated that she had heard the woman’s cry for help.

Longmuir told reporters at the scene that if the cat hadn’t been waiting at the field’s gate, it could have been hours before I or anyone else checked there.

“Piran, the cat, saved the day,” stated Bodmin Police. The woman was carried back up to the top on a stretcher and transferred to a local hospital, according to police.

The rescue has brought the community even closer than it already was. Neighbors constantly keep an eye and ear out for each other. However, now that everyone anticipates the older woman’s speedy recovery, the focus is on her cat, Piran.

Both the rescue workers and the community as a whole continue to laud the creature, who has a close bond with its owner. Cat’s may be self-centered, but that does not mean they don’t care for their owners.

Piran certainly proved that, and it has driven many residents to draw even closer to their pets in the event they should one day need their assistance for any reason.

Cats Give What They Get, Researchers Say

Meanwhile, contrary to popular perception, Oregon State University researchers have shown that cats build personal connections when the proximity of a caregiver makes them feel safe and calm.

“Cats that feel insecure are inclined to run into hiding or appear aloof,” said Dr. Kristyn Vitale, the study’s principal author. The researchers looked at the interaction between 108 cats and their owners.

When cats were abruptly left alone, they behaved similarly to dogs and children, according to the research.

Seventy cats were placed in an unknown room with their owners for two minutes during the trial. The owner left the room for another two minutes.

According to the researchers, 64.3 percent of the cats showed symptoms of “secure attachment,” meaning they grew more relaxed when their owner returned while others became unduly attached to their owners or altogether avoided them.

According to Vitale, the qualities of a secure cat include welcoming its owner and then returning to its previous activity.

She continued, “That’s how a secure human behaves as well.” “It is critical for owners to consider this. When they’re in a stressful circumstance, the way they act can have a direct impact on their cats’ behavior.”

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A Huge Tip Windfall for an Airport Piano Player

Sarrah M



These days, with all the security involved, it’s not often one sees local entertainment at the airport. However, for Tonee “Valentine” Carter, playing the piano at Atlanta International Airport has been his gig for decades. As it turned out, one day, that became the best life choice he ever made.

Tonee Carter has been playing piano for years. And at age 66, there isn’t much else he’s going to do. So, travelers who make their way through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport get the unique opportunity to enjoy Carter’s piano playing daily, often stopping folks in their tracks as they arrive, depart or catch a connecting flight. And a lot of it has to do with the fact that Carter puts his soul into his music when he plays.

As it turned out, one traveler named Carlos Whittaker was also in Atlanta International on a given day, trying to make his way back home midweek after one of his events ended up being cancelled at the last second. Looking to make a connection back to Tennessee, Whittaker was not in his best mood getting circumvented through Atlanta instead of his normal flight route. However, that was also the moment that Whitaker was put in the right place at the right time to hear and enjoy Tonee Carter’s piano playing in the airport.

Whitaker not only stopped to catch his bearings, the motivational speaker was moved by the music, and he stayed to listen for almost two hours as Carter played one melody after another ,the music wafting through Concourse A, blocking out the incessant chatter of airport announcements and general buzz of travelers talking. Whitaker didn’t stop listening either; he used his smartphone to video film the musician as well as post a meeting and chat with Carter as well. That particular post then ended up going viral with Whitaker’s network and 200,000 viewers online.

As they talked, Whitaker, who normally makes a living speaking, ended up hearing an amazing personal story of Carter’s and how he ended up doing what he does with a piano. The telling moved Whitaker and a spark flashed inside the professional speaker’s head; he was going to see if his following audience would be willing to participate in giving Carter the biggest tip he ever received in his piano-playing history. The idea went off like a rocket. In a half hour, the tip amount grew to $10,000.

Carter at first thought the whole thing and Whitaker were a spoof, a candid camera joke. However, when he realized that Whitaker was serious, and the money for the pianist’s tip was real, he was floored. Carter had spent his entire life giving to others; nobody had ever picked him out from the crowd to be a recipient. Whitaker kept the drive going before leaving for his connection, and when he did reach Nashville, the donation account had doubled. Later that same day, Whitaker connected with Carter and put the pianist on a podcast, and the balance was then at $44,000. By the end of the workweek, Carter was going to be the tip recipient of well over $61,000, without any strings attached.

From a boy who was inspired by Ray Charles’ piano-playing at the age of six, Tonee Carter would find himself 60 years later being rewarded for his musicianship by complete strangers. For Whitaker, the moment galvanized his speeches on how people can do great things when they work together, even if just with small contributions rolled together in a big movement. However, for Carter, he doesn’t plan to be greedy. Instead, he expects to take his tip and pay it forward to others who need help. And he’ll still be playing piano at Atlanta International Airport, Concourse A, for as long as he can.

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Activist Known For Protecting MOST-TRAFFICKED Mammal Awarded Major Honors

Danielle S



A tiny animal known to thrive throughout Africa and Asia, pangolins are as fascinating as they are bizarre. Covered in scales from head to toe, the pangolin feeds on ants and termites which it catches through a prolonged tongue, eating nothing else from the environment. Due to their unusual bodies and beautiful scales, the pangolin has become one of the most trafficked mammals on the planet. Already critically endangered, pangolin smugglers often ship the animal’s scales into China for profit on the black market and use through traditional Asian medicine.

Setting his sights on helping such a critically endangered species, Thai Van Nguyen would score international honors from the Goldman Environmental Prize, a grassroots award offered to environmental activists from all over the world.

Earning the Goldman Environmental Prize

Established in 1989, the Goldman Environmental Frize was founded by Rhoda and Richard Goldman in the city of San Francisco. For more than 32 years, the Prize has been offered to grassroots activists working day and night to benefit and protect the planet. Environmental activists from every inhabited continental region in the world compete for the top honors, with more than 206 winners spread across 92 nations at the time of this writing.

Susie Gelman is the V.P. at the Goldman Environmental Foundation and it was through a press release that she honored past recipients of the prize. Focusing on the importance of the work they are advocating for Gelman stated, “The global community of leaders, thinkers, and philanthropists is only growing and becoming more sophisticated, united, and powerful.”

Gelman went on to describe how each prize winner has played an immeasurable role in helping the planet move forward, focusing on the “balance with nature” that Gelman believes is the key to survival.

Meet Thai Van Nguyen; International Eco-Activist

With a workmanlike dedication to fighting the good fight, Thai Van Nguyen has been working in pangolin conservation since 2015. The founder of Vietnam Wildlife, Thai, and his team have personally accounted for the rescue of at least 1,540+ pangolins since their work began.

In addition to saving many at-risk pangolins from international trade, Thai was integral to establishing Vietnam’s first-ever anti-poaching unit. This anti-poaching unit has helped to significantly address illegal activities that were prevalent throughout Pu Mat National Park. Thai’s efforts helped to lead his anti-poaching unit to destroy over 9,700 animal traps, 775 illegal camps, and 78 guns. The anti-poaching unit that was established would also help lead to the arrest of 558 poachers in 7 years.

Before he was an international icon and environmental hero, Thai Van Nguyen was just another child growing up near Cuc Phuong National Park. It was there that Thai saw a baby pangolin and its mother trapped and killed by poachers. Since then, his efforts have been entirely focused on putting an end to the practice. To accomplish this task, Nguyen decided to embark upon a multi-pronged campaign to educate the public of Vietnam while stressing the importance of conserving the pangolin population.

Nguyen would begin conservation efforts by deploying an education campaign, discussing how to rescue and treat pangolins while also contributing to peer-reviewed journals and international workshops. Eventually, Nguyen would help engineer the opening of the Carnivore and Pangolin Education Center, a true first-of-its-kind establishment in the region. Through the non-profit, Nguyen has helped to educate guards, rangers, students, locals, and customs officials on how to properly care for pangolins.

Despite Nguyen’s heroic efforts, the past decade has seen more than 1 million pangolins poached worldwide, with Vietnam a particularly notable hotbed for the activities.

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