Parade to be held 8 AM Memorial Day Monday, May 31st
Forty musical marching units will participate in the two-hour Memorial Day parade as part of the closing weekend ceremonies dedicating the newest memorial to grace the Mall in Washington, D.C. The Reilly Raiders will be the only non-military drum and bugle corps in the parade and the only marching unit from the Philadelphia and tri-state area. The parade will begin at 8:00 AM.
“We all owe a great deal of gratitude to those who served in a war that forever changed our world. Words cannot express how very proud we are to have the honor of representing this entire region in such a magnificent salute to the men and women that gave so much and asked for so little in return,” said corps director Frank J. Neill.
The Reilly Raiders Senior Drum and Bugle Corps was originally organized in 1946 by returning World War ll veterans to continue their passion for the drum and bugle corps activity. In the decades that followed, the organization became synonymous with national championships, winning coveted VFW Nationals titles seven times (1950, 1951, 1957, 1958, 1959) and American Legion Nationals two times (1952 and 1953), along with 16 Pennsylvania State Championship titles. In a 13-year period, they entered 129 contests and are the only drum corps to boast of a phenomenal 90 first-place finishes, 31 second-place finishes and eight third-place positions.
The Viet Nam War caused many members to again leave the ranks and Reilly ceased competing in 1968, only to be revived in 1994 as an alumni corps.
Norristown, PA, native Joseph Cicippio, who was held captive for five years in Iran — two of those years in solitary confinement — was a marching member of the Reilly Raiders in their world championship years. In his book titled “Chains to Roses,” written as a memoir of his horrifying imprisonment, Cicippio cited his experience as a marching member and his ability to constantly relive those wonderful memories of the corps as one of the reasons for his ultimate survival. He is currently a resident of the Washington, D.C., area and is an active benefactor of the corps.
The new breed of alumni Reilly Raiders are many of the same faces that marched in the 1950s and 1960s. Several are World War ll veterans, some are Korean War and Viet Nam vets; all are dedicated to one common goal . . . “honoring our heritage, committed to our future.” The proud men and women that comprise the more than 120 marching members, along with the many members from the original corps, will be in the ranks as the Reilly Raiders march proudly down Independence Avenue to honor America’s Greatest Generation and the sacrifices they endured.