Neatly folding American flags is about patriotism for veteran called Navy Mom Mary
TAMPA, Fla. - For Mary Ingrassia, folding American flags isn't just about precision. It's about spreading patriotism, one homemade flag pin at a time.
"I am an American. I am proud of my country. I am proud to serve," she said.
The Army veteran now goes by "Navy Mom Mary," because her son is in the Navy.
She has given more than 20,000 of the homemade pins to Floridians of every stripe: Gold Star mothers, veterans of each branch, and to those who might need a reminder of what our country means.
"The rights I love are my freedom of religion, my freedom of speech. I have a mouth, and I am not afraid to open it," she said.
Mary is especially focused on helping children learn to make the pins.
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She goes to schools and clubs in Central Florida, giving presentations to kids who she worries are losing sight of the sacrifices that have been made to keep America going.
"I teach them to fold it. I teach them to respect it. Respect what the flag stands for."
By spreading flags that are neatly folded, she hopes the conversation about what it means will grow, too.
She says American wars, from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War to the War on Terror, have shown that a country is only as strong as its character.
"I am proud of it. I am proud to teach the children what that flag stands for."
She says there's a reason she gives the flag pins away for free. America offers things that can't be bought.