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Going Places: Reflecting On The Battlefields Of World War I

Matthew Brumley
KNKX travel expert Matthew Brumley in Ypres, Belgium.

One hundred years ago, U.S. forces were locked in combat in World War I. The United States joined the conflict about three years in. Millions of people – combatants and civilians – died in the conflict, touched off by the assassination of Austrian Archduke Ferdinand.

KNKX travel expert Matthew Brumley is no stranger to the parts of Europe where WWI battles played out. But two kids, including a teenage son not much younger than many of the soldiers who died between 1914 and 1918, this most recent visit hit home.

We heard from him atop a bell tower in Ypres, Belgium:

Walking through a somber chapter in human history can be overwhelming.

Credit Matthew Brumley / Earthbound Expeditions
Earthbound Expeditions
The cemeteries at Flanders Fields, Belgium, offer a sobering visualization of the toll of World War I.

“But it’s really important,” Brumley said. “World War I was one of those wars that historians agree didn’t really need to take place. There’s something to be learned from that. We don’t need to do this over and over again.”

In Ypres, you can visit a museum dedicated to one of the war’s worst battles, and climb the belfry to hear the bells ring out over the town. The history is all around.

Other Sites

This is a part of Europe known as the Benelux countries -- Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.

Brumley advises travelers to fly to Amsterdam, and then head out to smaller, less visited towns – especially in the summer, when the capitals of Europe can swell with visitors.

On this trip, Brumley fell in love with Rotterdam:

Matthew Brumley talks about Rotterdam.

Getting there is easy, too, Brumley says. Direct flights leave Seattle for Amsterdam regularly.


"Going Places" is 88.5's weekly exploration of travel. Our travel expert, Matthew Brumley, is co-founder of Earthbound Expeditions on Bainbridge Island, which provides small group travel to clients including KNKX. Never miss an episode again. Subscribe to Going Places with iTunesGoogle Play or Stitcher.

Ed Ronco is a former KNKX producer and reporter and hosted All Things Considered for seven years.