Tom Kaiser, a World War II veteran who lives in suburban Delray Beach, spent Thursday night at a Bastille Day celebration in Miami when he heard about the attack in Nice, France that left 84 people dead.
“It was a very somber night,” said Kaiser, who heads the Boynton Beach veterans group.
Kaiser was invited by Philippe Létrilliart, the Consul General of France in Miami. Miami and Nice are Sister Cities. Every year the Consul hosts a Bastille Day event. Kaiser was invited because of his work in arranging for veterans who fought in France in World War II to receive the French Medal of Honor. It’s France’s highest-ranking medal.
The event Thursday, attended by about 300 people, was at the Pullman hotel.
It’s usually a lively event, Kaiser said, but this one was different.
“The Consul General said we have very sad news tonight,” Kaiser recalled.
The program was cut short.
“We thought it was an explosion. We didn’t know it was a truck. They just said a tragedy happened. At least 80 dead,” Kaiser said. “You never know when the next one’s going to be or where it’s going to be.”
Kaiser said people were quietly talking throughout the night.
“It was a rather sad and somber evening,” he said. Still, “I’m glad that I was there and part of it.”
Kaiser, a member of the American Legion 164 and Veterans of Foreign War 5335, attended the event with Stanley Gavlick of the Korean War Veterans chapter 17 and Kurt Leuchter of the Jewish War Veterans 440.