Dave Blades addressed the audience during Veteran’s Day ceremonies held at the Essex County Cemetery in Wadhams.
For the seventh year, veterans and their families gathered to honor those who served and those who have passed at the Essex County Veterans Cemetery.
Among those honored was Staff Sgt. Dain Venne, 29, a former Moriah Central School student recently killed in Afghanistan.
“Dain not only excelled in his academic work but played three sports and excelled on the field as well,” said Lewis Supervisor Dave Blades, who was Venne’s counselor in high school. “He had the attributes that parents want to see in their sons. He treated all with respect and would go out of his way to help the younger students.”
Blades talked about how he had come to know Venne and about his decision to join the military shortly after Sept. 11, 2001. He also talked about how Venne opted to stay in the battle zone to help a new group of soldiers out, leading to his tragic death.
“Humanity has lost a great person who was a great leader and a friend,” Blades said.
The ceremony also paid tribute to Phillip McKinney, of Lake Placid, a World War II and Korean War veteran who died in April.
“He was not only a career soldier but he was a soldier’s soldier,” said Andy Joachim, of the Lake Placid American Legion. “He was a shining example of what it means to be a real man. He was prepared to help any group or person who requested his assistance.”
Joachim said that McKinney served in several key conflicts during World War II and Korea, earning 20 commendation awards including the Combat Infantry Badge, three Silver Stars and four Purple Hearts.
To date, 34 veterans have been buried at the Essex County Veterans cemetery, which was opened in May of 2006. This was the seventh annual ceremony to honor veterans living and dead.