Despite being eight decades apart in age, Nicholas DeGregorio and Constantine Innacone had something in common on Memorial Day: They both sat disappointed in North Bellmore after a local veterans parade was canceled.
Nicholas, 11, had been set to play the trumpet with the Newbridge Road Elementary School band in the parade and Innacone, 93, attends the event each year to honor his fellow soldiers who didn’t make it home from World War II.
But the parade’s cancellation had a silver lining — it brought the two together for a video of the boy playing his trumpet for the veteran. And it has gone viral.
The video has taken on perhaps even more significance for the veteran’s family because the day after it went online, he fell and broke his pelvis. Innacone is currently hospitalized.
The two met by chance on Memorial Day when Nicholas, who has played the trumpet for two years, was upset about the parade’s cancellation due to bad weather.
“I felt sad because I really wanted to play in the parade and play for the veterans,” he said.
First his family tried to go to a ceremony at the Bellmore LIRR station on Monday morning, but that event was over by the time they got there. As they drove back home in North Bellmore following the parade route, Nicholas rolled down the window and began to play.
Blocks up the street, Carol Williams had brought her father, Innacone, from their West Hempstead home to watch the parade. Innacone served in the Army in World War II. His service left him injured and in a wheelchair, and he is passionate about honoring his fellow veterans, Williams said.
He too was disappointed to find that the fanfare of previous years was absent from the parade route.
At about 10 a.m., Williams said she stopped a passing family — the DeGregorio family — to ask about the parade’s status.
“She was so sad, she said they came from West Hempstead,” Mary DeGregorio said of Williams.
Nicholas then offered to play his trumpet for Innacone and both families walked over to the veterans memorial at nearby Newbridge Road Elementary School. DeGregorio took a video of Nicholas playing “Grand Old Flag” for a delighted Innacone, who waved his hands and clapped along.
“He seemed happy. I felt happy because I made him happy,” Nicholas said.
The two families talked and Nicholas played the trumpet a few more times, both DeGregorio and Williams said.
DeGregorio later uploaded the video to YouTube and Facebook, where it began to circulate among friends and family and attract media coverage.
The two families have become friendly after their Memorial Day meeting and Nicholas said he hopes to visit his new friend in the hospital and play for him again.
Williams said her father loved the performance and was impressed with how respectful Nicholas was of veterans, an important quality for Memorial Day.
“It touched my father,” she said, “and that was beautiful.”