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Boy plays trumpet for WWII veteran after parade is canceled

All it took was a boy and his trumpet to honor one special World War II veteran, 93-year-old Constantine Iannacone, after a parade cancellation.
/ Source: TODAY

All it took was a boy and his trumpet to honor one special World War II veteran last week in North Bellmore, a community located on Long Island, New York.

On May 30, Constantine Iannacone, 93, showed up for a Memorial Day parade — a procession he had been leading from his scooter for many years. But Iannacone was disheartened to learn the parade had been canceled because of rain. That is, until Nicholas DeGregorio, 11, arrived with his trumpet.

"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 that have our own parade."

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The DeGregorios made their way by car to the parade route, while Nicholas played his trumpet out of the car window.

Canceled parade inspires 11 year old to honor WWII Vet in his own way
Nicholas DeGregorio, 11, decided that the show must go on.Mary DeGregorio/YouTube

They arrived at a memorial at the end of the route, where they met Carol Ann Iannacone, daughter of the WWII nonagenarian.

"I asked them if the parade had been canceled," she told TODAY. "My father was coming with his driver and I knew he would be disappointed."

Constantine "Poppy" Iannacone's medals
Constantine "Poppy" Iannacone was part of the 104th Infantry Division in World War II. He was a decorated hero and received the Bronze Star.Carol Ann Iannacone Williams

Constantine Iannacone, known as "Poppy" to friends and family, is an American hero, and was honored with the Bronze Star for his service. He was a member of 104th Infantry Division, and saw combat in 1944 in Germany. After his service, he returned to the U.S. and worked for the New York City Transit Authority. He also once served as commander of the American Legion Post 1749.

Constantine "Poppy" Iannacone leading parade 1985
Iannacone proudly led the parade for many years. Here he is in 1985 leading the procession as the commander of the American Legion Post 1749.Carol Ann Iannacone Williams

Iannacone arrived at the memorial site and met Nicholas and his parents. That's when the boy agreed to play George M. Cohan's "You're a Grand Old Flag" for the veteran, who clapped along and saluted. "Nicholas just wanted to make him happy," said Mary Degregorio.

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Unfortunately, the very next day, Iannacone had an accident at his apartment which resulted in breaking his pelvis.

Poppy Iannacone age 21 in 1944
Iannacone at age 21 in 1944Carol Ann Iannacone Williams

But the WWII vet was was in good spirits last Friday, and told TODAY, "Nicholas was such a nice boy. He made me very happy playing his trumpet."

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And the experience seems to have motivated Nicholas, who now wants to play at retirement homes.

Since the video went viral, the DeGregorios have been contacted by the Youth Trumpet and Taps Corps, a volunteer organization that offers trumpet players to perform "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.

Poppy Iannacone age 21 in 1944 saluting flag
Iannacone saluted the flag at a memorial in Bellmore, New York.Carol Ann Iannacone Williams

Iannacone has since moved to his new home at Saint Albans Community Living Center, in New York City, but the new friends, separated by generations, hope to meet again. Nicholas plans to visit the veteran soon and play the trumpet for him when he feels better.