Constantine “Poppy” Iannacone, 93, showed up on May 30th to lead the Memorial Day parade that he had led for many years. He was disappointed to find that the parade had been canceled due to rain.
Meanwhile, Nicholas DeGregorio, 11, was disappointed to learn that he would not get to perform on his trumpet with his school band.
“Nicholas was disappointed that the parade had been canceled,” Mary DeGregorio, the boy’s mother, told TODAY. “He had been practicing for weeks with his school’s band, and so we decided to have our own parade.”
The DeGregorios drove the parade route while Nicholas played his trumpet out the window. When they reached the memorial at the end of the route, they found Carol Ann Iannacone, Constantine’s daughter. “I asked them if the parade had been canceled,” she said. “My father was coming with his driver and I knew he would be disappointed.”
Mr. Iannacone is a hero, honored with the Bronze Star. He served in the 104th Infantry Division, fighting in Germany in 1944. After his service, he worked for the New York City Transit Authority. He is a past commander of the American Legion Post 1749.
When Mr. Iannacone arrived at the memorial, Nicholas agreed to play You’re a Grand Old Flag. The veteran clapped along and saluted. “Nicholas just wanted to make him happy,” said Mary DeGregorio.
As a video of the performance went viral, news stations called to interview Mr. Iannacone. Unfortunately, he fell the next day and broke his pelvis. He is in good spirits and has moved to the Saint Albans Community Living Center in New York City.
Nicholas has been motivated by the experience to begin playing his trumpet in retirement homes. He’s been offered a place in the volunteer organization, the Youth Trumpet and Taps Corps. The organization provides trumpet players to play “Taps” at veteran memorial services.
“They said that usually they do not take someone as young as Nicholas, but that he had already proven himself, and that they had a place for him,” said DeGregorio.