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People see red over France, and spill wine

In 2001, the French government gave Angelo Pizzuti a certificate of thanks for his military service and for helping to liberate France during World War II.

Pizzuti now wants to give it back.

"I would like to send it back with my blood on it," Pizzuti said.

Pizzuti's hand was wounded by shrapnel in Metz, France, in October 1944 when he was with the 5th Infantry Division. During his fighting days, the thunder of Sherman tank fire deafened him.

Now, with the French government fighting the Bush administration's war plans for Iraq, Pizzuti and other Pasco residents are angry.

"They've done a dirty trick," the 80-year-old New Port Richey resident said. "There were a lot of our guys who were killed in France.

"What they've done to us, I can't believe it."

Pizzuti is sending his certificate back to the French Consulate's office in Miami. In Land O'Lakes, a man who won't identify himself is spending hundreds of dollars to buy French wines and smash them on the ground.

Christopher Robinson, general manager of Benedetto's Italian Restaurant, said a man came into his establishment several weeks ago and paid $400 to clear the shelves of French wine, not to drink but to destroy.

"He's a veteran, and he cares very much about this country and he doesn't understand why they (the French) won't support us (the United States) in our endeavor," Robinson said.

After buying the wine, the former Marine went behind the restaurant and smashed each bottle.

The protester declined an interview request through Benedetto's owner Ben Pumo.

"He's doesn't want to get in trouble at work," Pumo said.

Some of Benedetto's kitchen staff witnessed the wine bottle smashing.

Swinging his arms, Robinson re-enacted how the customer destroyed the bottles.

"He curses a little while he does it," Robinson said.

Robinson said this customer has spent about $1,200 in the past three weeks, every time Benedetto's receives a new shipment of French wine.

Pumo said there has recently been a decline in the sales of French wines in his restaurant, and he doesn't plan to order more for now.

"If my French wine sales weren't down so drastically, I'd still carry French wines because I want to make my customers happy," Pumo said.

Other local bars and liquor stores have not seen a drop in sales of products imported from France.

"There is some negative customer attitude about French wine, but it's not affecting overall sales largely," said Barbara Bartlett, co-owner of Willow Bend Liquors in Lutz. Bartlett said a woman decided not to buy a popular vodka after realizing it was imported from France.

"It's been pretty steady. We haven't felt much of an impact," said Dipak Desai, co-owner of River Crossing Liquors and Chelsea Place Liquors in New Port Richey.

Someone smashing French wine bottles doesn't trouble Pumo.

"It doesn't bother me because he bought all the wines that would have eventually gone bad," he said. "It would have just sat there."

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