Sgt. Jean Claude Nolan of Bloomingdale volunteered for the Marine Corps after Sept. 11, 2001, went on to serve two tours of duty in Iraq, and worked as a federal agent in Kansas City.
It was there that the 29-year-old lost his life in a car accident on Dec. 1, 2008.
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If you goWhat: Dedication of a flagpole memorial in honor of Marine Sgt. Jean Claude Nolan
When: 11 a.m. Saturday, June 11
Where: Springfield Park, 269 Springfield Drive, Bloomingdale
Who: Dedication ceremony hosted by Bloomingdale Bulldogs and Bloomingdale Park District
Info: bloomingdalebulldogs.com or bloomingdaleparks.org
To honor his memory, family members and park district officials suggested dedicating a park bench.
They sought the assistance of Frank Saverino Jr., manger of the Bloomingdale Bulldogs traveling baseball team, to raise money for the effort.
But Saverino had a different idea.
"I said, 'No, we're going to do a flagpole.'"
Saverino and the 12 players on his team are behind an effort to locate a flagpole and memorial stone at Springfield Park in Bloomingdale in honor of Nolan and other veterans.
A dedication ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, June 11. Local Marines will serve as color guard and raise a flag that once was flown at the White House. Members of Bloomingdale VFW Post 7539 also will conduct a 21-gun salute.
The baseball team raised $2,800 for the project through raffle tickets and sponsorships from businesses. Players also spent a Saturday afternoon in April digging a 5½-foot hole by hand for the pole.
Saverino, who grew up playing baseball in Carol Stream and the surrounding area, tries to teach his players -- most about 10 years old -- fundamentals both on and off the field. He says he emphasizes the value of respect and teamwork. Players also are required to have B+ averages in school.
"It's part of being on the team," Saverino said. "It's not just about baseball."
And it seems his players are indeed learning life lessons.
Saverino said his team was down eight runs in a game and came back to win by one. Afterward, two of his players went to cheer up the dejected pitcher from the other team.
He says he didn't know whether his players would understand the meaning behind sponsoring the flagpole memorial. But he heard a story from a parent that made him think they do.
The parent said her son had expressed remorse for an uncle who died while in Vietnam.
"He said, 'I get it, Mom.'"
Saverino says he hopes the memorial is a way for his players to give back.
"I want these kids to be praised for what they're doing."