Lest We Forget: Where to Observe the 100-Year Anniversary of World War I
One-hundred years ago this month, “The war to end all wars” began in Europe. While it certainly didn’t end war, World War I changed the course of history, ousting governments, launching revolutions, and rewriting national boundaries. Commemorating a war that killed millions is a somber affair, but by traveling to key sites on this centenary, one can perhaps find a message of peace and togetherness as people from around the world gather to honor the dead — and even have a historic soccer game.
You can take several cruise trips through World War I landmarks in Europe. (Courtesy: CroisiEurope)
Life and Death Along the Rivers
River cruises have become a hugely popular way to tour Europe, stopping to see the sites from a mobile home base along scenic waterways. CroisiEurope is offering three different cruise itineraries to commemorate the centenary during the summer of 2015, doing day trips from the ships’ routes through Belgium and France. Historical outings include a walk into the sobering “Trench of Death” in Belgium and to the Douaumont Ossuary, which contains the bones of a staggering 130,000 soldiers killed in the battle of Verdun (perhaps only half the total of dead during the campaign). But the tour isn’t all gloom and doom — other stops are made to sample local wines, cheese, and Champagne, proving that civilization has survived even such a calamity as a world war.
(Courtesy: Interallied Memorial, Belgium)
With Kings and Princes
On Aug. 4, 1914, German troops invaded Belgium, beginning the war on the Western Front. On the same date in 2014, King Philippe of Belgium will welcome heads of state from around the world to honor the fallen at the Interallied Memorial in Liège, across the border from Germany. Also on Aug. 4, in western Belgium near Mons, Prince Harry along with Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge will lay wreaths at the St. Symphorien Cemetery, where the first (as well as the last) Commonwealth soldier killed in the war is buried. British companies dominate WWI battlefield package tour offerings covering these and other key sites in Belguim and France, with almost weekly departures by bus from England, though William and Kate will probably not be traveling by motorcoach.