We always look forward to honoring our country’s veterans each year. As we remember the armistice that ended World War I and all the sacrifices of our soldiers before and since, it’s important to reflect on how American soldiers have fought to make the world a better place. We were recently reminded of this by a chance encounter one of our musicians had with a WWII veteran at one of our Community Connections concerts.
Following a performance at Orchard Park at Southfork Senior Living in Pearland, one resident, Darwin Harris, struck up a conversation with Houston Symphony cellist Louis-Marie Fardet after hearing Fardet’s French accent and invited him back to his room to show him a medal he had received for his service in World War II. We learned that Harris, now 92 years old, is a WWII veteran who was drafted into the Navy at 18 and was aboard the USS Texas during the Normandy landings.
The medal he was awarded for his service on D-Day is in fact The French Order of the Legion of Honor, which is the highest French order for military and civil merits.
Fardet had this to share after meeting Mr. Harris:
“While talking about the Normandy landing with Mr. Harris, it resonated like the kind of talks I would have with Robert Fardet, my grandfather, about that same period; he let German soldiers stay, sleep and eat in their modest house of Saint Philbert de Grand-lieu. And Robert had to quit his main job from Nantes but was locally solicited to be in charge of food supply for the German soldiers. When I hear about that history of 70 plus years ago from this unique, extraordinary person, everything feels connected and I realize Mr. Harris’s involvement in WW2 is one of the reasons that my grandparents recovered their freedom and that I didn’t grow up speaking German!
“This reminded me that, as a musician, it is my mission to connect people and the world with music. Music has, in our case, also helped Mr. Harris and myself (as a French/American citizen) to refresh our history, to honor memories of fallen soldiers, to remember always and tell over and over again the history from a very important part of our past.”
From all of us at the Houston Symphony, we wish you and all of our country’s veterans a happy Veterans Day!