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article imageOp-Ed: Travel & Food writer now novelist overwhelmed by Veterans of WWII Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Dec 9, 2015 in Lifestyle
San Carlos - While food and travel blog writer turned-novelist Carole Bumpus is pleased that the companion cookbook "Recipes for Redemption" to her novel "A Cup of Redemption" has been well-received,
she now wants to focus on the experiences she had while in the villages of France.
She spoke to this reporter over lunch at Cuisinett, a contemporary-style French bistro in San Carlos, just off El Camino Real. Cuisinett specializes in authentic French 'comfort food.' The cafe serves one of the dishes mentioned in the novel, "A Cup of Redemption."
Owner, chef Geoffroy Raby was delighted to serve 'Moules avec Cidre et a la Creme' from Chapter 16 of the novel. Coincidentally, chef Geoffroy comes from a part of France where mussels are highly prized. Bumpus is delighted and amazed that so much about her novel and its companion cookbook have worked out so well, despite various obstacles. "9/11 was one of the reasons why it took me a while to get the work done," she said.
She pointed out that day we met at Cuisinett, "It is December 7th; the anniversary of the day the United States was forced into World War II. But France and England had been in the war for years at that point, and we, as Americans, don’t remember that." For Bumpus her journey to her very first novel "A Cup of Redemption" was completely unexpected. She had been traveling through France over a decade ago, (before 9/11) to collect recipes and food experiences for blogs. "But when I met Marcelle and she began to talk about her experiences of WWII, intertwined with answers to my questions about French food, my plans changed. I could not walk away from her story," she said. Marcelle's life story and the experience of World War II is the basis for "A Cup of Redemption."
The unexpected journey opened up new doors. Bumpus now has a profound appreciation for what the veterans and the allied forces of WWII went through to secure all of our current freedoms.
"While gathering research, I traveled with a contingent of WWII U.S. Army veterans for both the 65th and 70th anniversaries of the landing on the Southern Beaches of France. I found that people in France, everywhere we went,” said Bumpus, “honored the American veterans with deep appreciation. I was overwhelmed. Who knew? They really went out of their way to show our WWII vets their complete gratitude. What we do here in the U.S. to commemorate our WWII veterans is little compared to what I experienced over in France," Bumpus said.
Every year  volunteers gather to pay tribute to the American forces that died in WWII at Epinal ceme...
Every year, volunteers gather to pay tribute to the American forces that died in WWII at Epinal cemetery in France
Jocelyne Papelard
"Not only whole villages showed up but dignitaries, officials and diplomats at every level came to pay their respects. It is very moving," she said. “There were festivals, street fairs, parades, fireworks, banquets, and more wine than you could imagine. And we traveled to many of the war memorials and American cemeteries to honor our own. Did you know there are cemeteries in France just for the Americans who died? And, in Épinal every year, the French people go out of their way to place a rose on each and every grave. That’s over 5,000 or so American graves in these cemeteries," she said.
Last year on the Veterans of Foreign Wars web site, it was noted how France has been honoring Americans who fought in WWII so that France and the rest of the world could live in freedom.
A rose is placed on each of the graves by volunteers who wish to pay their respects to the Americans...
A rose is placed on each of the graves by volunteers who wish to pay their respects to the Americans who liberated France and the rest of Europe from the horror of WWII.
Jocelyne Papelard
"Several organizations have appeared in recent years—staffed and maintained by those much younger than 'the greatest generation'—making it their mission to continue honoring American veterans," writes Kelly Gibson for the summer edition of VFW Magazine, 2014. Gibson's article is posted at the VFW web site. And, it describes that..."One such group is the Amis Des Vétérans Américains (AVA), founded in 1964 by Simone Renaud, a Frenchwoman from Ste.-Mère-Église. She saw firsthand the brutalities of war, as Germans and American paratroopers fought in the streets of the small town. To this day, “the village population dedicates its eternal gratitude” to GIs, AVA volunteers say. Extensive memorials and commemorations can be found throughout town."
This is exactly what Bumpus experienced and it is something she wants to have published. "I have plenty of material, she said. In my quest to write about Marcelle and her story, I interviewed over 75 people. And that includes dozens of people I interviewed in Italy," she said.
"It amazed me how the similarities between the stories I heard from people in France I had interviewed resounded just as much in those I had interviewed in Italy." Bumpus then mentioned to me again, how she had more than 800 pages and in order to get "A cup of Redemption" published she had to condense and bring it to 350 pages.
"It was not an easy task and I had to get an editor to help me," she said. Grateful for how all turned out for her first novel, she still senses that the rest of all that material can be put into something. "I have enough for another novel, in fact, it is pretty much finished." she said.
Overview of the more than 5 000 graves at Epinal in France.
Overview of the more than 5,000 graves at Epinal in France.
Jocelyne Papelard
"I am just trying to figure out whether or not some of the remaining material could be best presented as a memoir or maybe as a set of short stories." She is deeply appreciative of the journey Marcelle's story led her on. "But, it was Marcelle's daughter, Josiane, who introduced me to so many people, including Marcelle, and veteran and former Mayor of Livermore, John Shirley. And, it was because of my friendship with Josiane, who served as French interpreter for the WWII veterans association, I was asked to join them to be their ‘war correspondent’ during the ten-day tours. It was my job to send back daily information on all the activities the veterans were experiencing. It truly was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and my frustration was my inability to let other American veterans know how truly they are being honored. “We will never forget,” they say. “We will never forget the gift of freedom you gave us over 70 years ago.”
Two summers ago, John Shirley and Bumpus went on one of these "Liberation Tours" visiting the villages where American and Allied forces had fought and the villages they had liberated. Now age 91, Shirley is hoping he will be around for the 75th anniversary of WWII. "That's only four years away, he said, I think I can manage it, (another trip to France for the commemoration) God willing."
Groups of volunteers gather and prepare to place roses on each of the more than 5 000 graves of the ...
Groups of volunteers gather and prepare to place roses on each of the more than 5,000 graves of the American soldiers who died in WWII in France.
Jocelyne Papelard
As Bumpus and I finished our lunch, prepared by chef Geoffroy, (which included roasted duck salad and pork stew), Bumpus expressed her concerns about the current "war on terrorism." "It is not like WWII at all. And, even though America was late in joining the world at war, WWII was much different." "Back then, America was faced with fighting Nazism from Germany, Fascism from Italy, a brutal dictatorship in Spain and an aggressive, expanding Imperialism from Japan."
"Today's war on terrorism is hard to pin-point. It's illusive and seems to crop up just about anywhere." We both noted the recent attacks in Paris and in Southern California at San Bernardino. Baffling and puzzling, the details of which are still emerging.
And as she noted, since WWII America has been caught up in foreign conflicts that drain our resources for preserving the freedoms hard won by our WWII veterans. "Korea and Vietnam started off as 'the fight against communism' but what those really were leaned more toward a foreign country going into its own civil war or unrest." "Did American military really need to be in those places? Just ask some of the WWII veterans if they believe we need to be in all these wars. They will tell you quite frankly, ‘War is hell’ and it rarely solves any world problems.”
She also noted that unlike veterans of WWII, more men and women soldiers who are returning home from the Middle East are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). "Today we are getting more scientific knowledge about it. But, back in WWII it was simply referred to as 'battle fatigue,' but we know more now," said Bumpus, a retired family therapist. “It doesn’t mean that they suffered less; but, they rarely talked about it. Now, we have proof-positive that veterans need all kinds of mental health help and it is imperative that they receive our help.”
Some sources estimate and say that 5.2 million people in America, suffer from some form of PTSD.
Thirty percent of returning veterans, according to the Dept. of Veterans'Affairs, have PTSD due to war experiences in a combat zone. An additional 20 to 25 percent have had partial PTSD at some point in their lives."
The DVA and other similar sources noted. "More than half of all male Vietnam veterans and almost half of all female Vietnam veterans have experienced “clinically serious stress reaction symptoms.” PTSD has also been detected among veterans of other wars. Estimates of PTSD from the Gulf War are as high as 10 percent. Estimates from the war in Afghanistan are between 6 and 11 percent. Current estimates of PTSD in military personnel who served in Iraq range from 12 to 20 percent."
And, to make matters worse, Bumpus noted, "many of those returning from combat, once they are tended to physically, they are being redeployed two and three times." "Typically, when things calm down and the body/system is healing, the brain starts to recall the trauma of the events." Bumpus believes that when a solider is healing, even if physical signs say he or she is okay, the brain is trying to heal itself on a much deeper level. Sending a soldier back into a war zone is a mistake.
Yet according to sources like The New York Times, in an article last April of this year, some of the troops returning to Iraq, such as the 5-73 Squadron of the 82nd Airborne Division, have individuals who are returning for sixth time.
"And for what?" She explained. "The social-political arena of the Middle East is very complex and American military presence only seems to aggravate militant extremist forces-- not pacify them."
"With so many young American lives being deployed and then redeployed to the Middle East, it is very short-sighted of our government, said Bumpus. The troops being sent over there again and again are our resources. And when they return, the strain that is placed upon the families that care for them and then upon society is increased. This is why any war, (especially an illusive one) should be avoided," she said. "The cost of it to families and to society is much too high and leaders in our government must understand this."
Bumpus speaks from her years of experience as a family counselor. "When families came to me, many times it was under a court order," she said. "And, that usually began with a troubled child or individual family member. But as things would unfold, she added, the troubled child or family member was just the one symptom or manifestation of a troubled family unit."
"Currently, our society and culture is having difficulty spending quality time together and just being human beings. Much of what is happening today is about 'over-doing, consuming, commuting, fiddling with electronic devices' and not living fully as human beings." "Why we got entangled in an elusive war in a far away place is difficult to understand."
"This is why I became so intrigued with what I had experienced in France and Europe. The way of life there, said Bumpus is much different." This is why she wants to get more out there about the struggles of WWII and the millions of lives it cost to secure a freedom America has enjoyed for 70 years.
"Yet in the past 30 years, the emphasis on over-consuming, giving in to impulses, like compulsive spending, and indulgences of various kinds has created a culture that is going down a dangerous path, politically, economically and emotionally."
"Family life is so important, she said and Marcelle the main character in my novel fought to maintain a sense of family against the horrific backdrop of WWII." Food and travel may have brought Bumpus to Marcelle. But it was WWII that taught Marcelle and many others that the gift of life, and love and freedom are something to treasure.”
For more information about Carole Bumpus, her novel "A Cup of Redemption" and the companion book, "Recipes for Redemption," visit the Carole Bumpus web site.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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