HORICON - Under sunny, clear autumn skies Saturday, the people of northern Warren County paid tribute - in a manner not witnessed here for generations - to one of their own who while serving his nation, gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Jeremiah Monroe, 31, the first soldier from North Warren Central School to be a casualty of war - and the first locally to die on duty since World War II - was killed Sept. 17 while on patrol in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Monroe's funeral at the St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Chestertown was attended by an overflow crowd. But later, the collective grief of area residents was even more apparent. After the funeral, hundreds of people stood alongside the highway from Chestertown to Horicon paying Monroe tribute as his hearse drove past. This funeral procession was more than 300 vehicles long.
Monroe's mid-morning funeral was attended by New York Police, Warren County Sheriff's officers, American Legion members, and the Veterans Mobile Honor Guard. They all stood at attention with flags waving in the cool breeze as the casket was carried from the hearse by Army soldiers from Fort Drum, directed by Major James L. Terry, Commanding General at Fort Drum.
Chaplain Major David Esselle of Fort Drum conducted the service. He invited friends and relatives to talk about Jeremiah. Nikki Monroe, a cousin, shared her memories of youthful fun, including playing the Dukes of Hazzard with Jeremiah and Robert, pretending to be going 100 miles per hour while the car was parked in the driveway. She finished talking with the Irish blessing that she had used at his father's funeral only a few months ago. John Kenyon and Jeremy Moon also talked.
Deacon Bob Wubbenhorst read Psalm 23, talking of overcoming the fear of death. Rev. John O'Kane led the 400-plus at the Church and overflowing crowd on the front lawn, in reciting the Lord's Prayer.