Who steals a flagpole?
Someone in Greene County did, and though no one seems to know why, there’s no doubt the thief couldn’t have chosen a worse flagpole to steal.
It was the memorial flagpole of the late Greene County Sheriff Brian Tennant, who died from a brain tumor in February at 35 years old. The pole stood in centerfield of the Emerald baseball field run by Waynesburg Youth Baseball until it was stolen last week.
“It amazed our entire office that someone would steal it,” Interim Sheriff Marcus Simms said.
The 25-foot, aluminum pole and the American flag attached to it were reported missing May 19. State police said the value was about $750, but to Tennant’s family, it was worth much more.
“It’s more than a flagpole to my family and to the people who loved him,” said Tennant’s wife, Jessica McMinn Tennant.
She said the memorial was a way for Brian to still be there when his four sons, ranging in age from 4 to 10, play ball.
“That becomes a reason to smile, even though you’re really sad,” Jessica said. “The flag and flagpole not being there takes that from us, and so much has already been taken.”
The blue-line flag that was also on the pole was found balled-up along the fence line, Jessica said. She said she doesn’t believe the pole and flag were taken maliciously to spite her husband or to intentionally inflict pain. But that certainly was the result.
She posted on Facebook the same day a “shout out” directed toward the unknown thief, calling the person an example for her children of the “disrespectful and worthless” type of person who could possibly “steal their dead daddy’s flag.”
“Seriously though, you suck as bad as cancer does,” she wrote in her post.
The people who knew Tennant respected him, Jessica said. She said even a man whom her husband arrested and put in jail showed up for Tennant’s funeral to pay his respects.
“The good news is the spirit of a man like Brian can’t be captured in a flag, a sign or even a social media post,” she wrote on Facebook. “But it sure made those little boys proud to play on the field beneath that flag or catch a glimpse of it when they stepped into the batter’s box.”
And those boys will see that flag next time they step up to the plate, according to Jason Diamond, president of the Waynesburg Youth Baseball League. He said he immediately ordered a new pole.
“It was disgusting,” Diamond said. “Just knowing what all Brian went through and what his family was going to go through once they saw it was missing.”
Diamond said that he and Jessica have received an outpouring of support and donations to get a new pole up in the field. Any leftover donations will go toward sending Jessica and her four sons on a weekend trip to Pittsburgh to see the Pirates.
Jessica also thanked the community for the donations and for fighting to keep her husband’s memory alive.
“The community shared the same emotions with me,” Jessica said. “They, too, felt hurt by watching my family go through another tough thing. No matter what major milestones that have happened, the community has always been there for us, just like Brian was there for the community with the many hats that he wore.”