It’s strange what comes to mind when news of a tragedy arrives. When I was awoken early Sunday with the news Dain Venne of Port Henry had been killed in Afghanistan, I immediately thought back to a winter day 20 years ago.
My daughter, Meaghan, and I had been invited to the town of Moriah sledding party by Brian Venne, Dain’s father, at the Moriah Country Club. Parents visited at the top of the hill as children flew down the slope.
That day, even at a tender age, it was obvious Dain Venne was special. He was fearless, constantly trying to go faster and faster in an attempt to make it to a small brook at the bottom of hill that parents were confident was out of reach. Also, he was kind, helping pull younger children back up the hill after each trip. And, he was fun.
Time-after-time Dain challenged his father and myself to a race down the hill. Finally, against better judgement, the old men — we’re much older today — could no longer tolerate the taunts. We raced.
With the snow packed down to almost ice thanks to hundreds of earlier trips, we flew down the hill — reaching the brook and crashing into it. While Brian and I tried to gather ourselves, Dain was declaring victory. He had won.
It turns out Dain almost always won. He grew into a top student and an outstanding athlete — he was an all-state linebacker and led the North Country in rushing as a tailback his senor year at Moriah. Coach Don Tesar called Dain the smartest and best linebacker he’s ever coached. He went to St. Lawrence University after graduating from Moriah Central School in 2001.
The world changed Sept. 11, 2001, for Dain and thousands of others. The 9-11 terrorist attacks called Dain to military service.
Fred Herbst is Times of Ti editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org