Almost 70 years ago, French resistance fighter Gustav Bonnet handed out his treasured bottles of wine to American troops in Paris as thanks for the liberation of his country.
At the recent Woodmen of the World Chapter 462 dinner in Altona, Jerry Kaifetz recounted that tale about Gustav, his maternal grandfather — how he’d hidden his wine collection in the hills to save it from the Germans, retrieving it when all was safe.
Bestowing the wine on those soldiers was a gift from the heart.
His voice choked with emotion, Jerry looked from the podium to his brother, Danny Kaifetz, who was honored that night as Woodmen’s Citizen of the Year.
Danny never knew Gustav, Jerry said. But their hearts are aligned all the same.
Danny, founder of North Country Honor Flight, gives a most precious gift to American World War II veterans, recognizing their valor, their sacrifice, by taking them to see their memorial in Washington, D.C.
Jerry couldn’t quite express his pride in Danny, for the tears were too close.
HIS FATHER’S PHOTO
There were a lot of tears at the banquet.
First, eyes grew misty as Sharon Ramsey accepted the Caring for Others Award for her many good works through St. Patrick’s Church in Rouses Point and St. Mary’s Mission Center in Champlain.
Then, Danny took the spotlight, telling how his father, Louis B. Kaifetz, landed on Utah Beach in France on D-Day.
But he never got to see the World War II Memorial, as he died before that monument was completed.
Last year, North Country Honor Flight made its first journeys, a total of five, from Plattsburgh to Washington, D.C., taking 72 veterans in all.
Many who go bring photos of vets who have died, but Danny has refrained from taking one of his own dad, he told the packed room at Rainbow Wedding and Banquet Hall, because he doesn’t want to take any time from the veterans at their memorial.