Mummers Band Raises Their Instruments to Salute Veterans
“I went on the 2009 trip which happened to fall on June 6, the anniversary of D-Day. All the veterans being led into the World War II Memorial area got a standing ovation. That was very special.”
This is one of the many memories that Fralingers member Nick McCann, 39, has of the South Jersey Honor Flight trip. The 2017 trip will be the seventh trip the Mummers String Band has participated in the program. Jenn McCann, who helps organize the trip to Washington D.C., explains how the Fralingers came to be involved.
“It started in 2010 when I was talking to my husband, who is a member of the Fralingers. I told him that we (SJ Honor Flights) were looking for a way to do something special for the vets before they left on the buses. For the first year, we had 10 band members come out and it has only grown from there. That first year, we completely surprised the vets with our second performance as they got on the buses.”
The morning event provides the veterans and opportunity to meet while enjoying a delicious breakfast. During the meal, the members of the Fralingers provide an orchestrated soundtrack to this highly emotional experience. While the breakfast performance is fun for McCann and rest of the band, it’s the procession to the buses where the Fralingers deliver.
“When we surprise the veterans on the way out to the buses, they love it. I was approached by spectators who told me they enjoyed the service. I remember one guy that was in the Coast Guard, and when we started playing “Semper Paratus” he just lit up. He was thrilled we played his song since he felt most people forget about Coast Guard veterans. It’s one of those moments you can never forget.”
For McCann, it is moments like these that make him proud to be a member of the Fralingers organization. The string band is about to celebrate its 106th anniversary and has recently been on a hot streak during the Mummers Parade. He makes no excuses for admitting that’s one of the reasons for joining the band.
“I was a member of a couple of other bands, and I had a bunch of friends in the Fralingers. They have always had a reputation as being a top band. In 2003 we won our first of eight 1st place prizes, which is a record, and we won in 2015 as well.”
With all the accolades and praise the band has recently received, one would think that their egos would grow, but not the Fralingers. Their desire to help those in the community is stronger than ever. With the 2017 Honor Flight trip around the corner, the Fralingers are sending approximately 20 members to play for the veterans. They even turned the trip into a “point’s event”, which means that those wishing to participate in the New Year’s Day parade can earn points toward that end by performing for the veterans.
However, Nick still knows what the true importance of the annual trip to D.C. is; the veterans.
“We are not used to living in a world where we are unsure of our safety on a daily basis. To talk to these guys who would go over to Europe or Korea, and not talk to their families for weeks and months, it makes you appreciate your life that much more.”