When Joe Folino’s parents immigrated from Italy in 1978, they opened a restaurant in Berks County with the idea of sharing the traditional foods of their native country with the locals of their adopted community, Folino said.
He and his wife, Anna, followed in their footsteps, opening Mangia! Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria in Cumru Township, 10 years ago.
That is when the couple began supporting the Patriotic Order Sons of America, Washington Camp 211 of Mohnton.
The Folinos donate the proceeds of the restaurant’s breakfast receipts one Sunday a month to the P.O.S. of A. camp.
Camp 211 showed its appreciation Saturday by presenting and dedicating a flag and 20-foot flagpole outside the couple's restaurant at 322 E. Wyomissing Ave.
The patriotic organization chose the gift of a flag to help fulfill its mission, which, in part, is to teach respect and proper care of the Stars and Stripes, said Larry M. Graeff, a member of the Mohnton camp.
Graeff also serves as a trustee of the national organization and is a past state president.
The state organization provides the public flags flown at Valley Forge and Independence national historic parks, he said, and the Berks County chapter provides the flag outside the Pagoda on Mount Penn.
Graeff said Camp 211 chose the dedication date to coincide with the 288th birthday of George Washington.
“Every P.O.S. of A. camp is dedicated to Washington’s memory and given a number,” Graeff said.
Coincidently, he said, the flagpole presentation and flag raising ceremony fell a day before the 75th anniversary of the flag raising atop Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima in the final stages of the Pacific theater of World War II.
“It’s a coincidence,” Graeff said, “but a significant coincidence.”
Graeff served as master of ceremonies, leading the assembly in the pledge of allegiance and introducing guest officials, including representatives of Cumru Township and Mohnton.
Speakers included state Rep. Mark M. Gillen, a Robeson Township Republican, and state Sen. Judith L. Schwank, a Ruscombmanor Township Democrat. Both spoke on the important symbolism of the flag.
“When we look at the flag, we are looking at a history of sacrifice,” he said. “As long as this nation endures, we will be flying the flag.”
Gillen referenced the anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima, citing the more than 26,000 American casualties over the 36-day battle as an example of sacrifice. He also spoke of the many sacrifices throughout the nation’s history, beginning with the American Revolution.
“There should be many flags flying on Wyomissing Avenue,” he said.
The ceremony ended as the Folinos, assisted by members of Camp 211, raised the flag outside their restaurant.
“When we started this, we were not doing it for recognition,” Joe Folino said. “But to be part of the community. This flagpole is not just a gift to Mangia!, but to the whole community.”