Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Flanders Fields Tourism Board Chooses Unique Campaign Byline: No More War

First in a series of articles by Sandy Dhuyvetter,
Host TravelTalkRADIO and BusinessTravelRADIO

Cemeteries filled with the remains of soldiers from all over the world.
Over 8 million lost their lives in World War I. Many casualties were in Belgium 

I was in London this past year at one of the largest travel
exhibits in the world called World Travel Market when I
met Dr. Peter DeWilde, the CEO of Flanders Tourism.
We were both participating in the International Institute for
Peace through Tourism award ceremony. As a board member,
I was accepting an award for the work Airline Ambassadors
International does for children around the world and Peter was
busy spreading the good word about the upcoming 4 year
campaign to honor Flanders Fields and experiencing the colorful
culture of Belgium

 Dr. Peter DeWilde, Dr. Peter DeWilde, the CEO of Flanders Tourism.

I couldn’t wait to learn more about the commemoration because
of my personal connection to World War I, which by the way,
is often referred to as, the Great War. As a travel journalists and
a first generation American, my parents were Belgians from the
villages of 
Ruiselede and Marie Alter in Flanders. My father was 
born in1902 and had lived through World War I.
That fact was Dr. DeWilde’s comments were extremely compelling
and coupled with my insatiable curiosity on the subject, I decided to
make another trip to Belgium to see for myself the effects of The
Great War. I have been to Belgium many times but this trip turned
out to be the most enlightening and endearing to me. Previously,
I had been to my parent’s villages and sat in my father’s home where
he said his last good bye to his Mother in 1919. However, I was still
hungry for more knowledge about those dark years where 8 million
people lost their lives.
Sandy and her father, Joseph Dhuyvetter.  Born in Flanders Belgium in 1902,
Joseph lived through World War I. 

My father was just 12 when WWI broke out. German soldiers moved 
into his family home in Ruiselede and life was forever changed.
Perhaps the most memorable part of all his stories was the fact he
never criticized the young German soldiers who he said were only
doing what they were told to do and they were alone in a strange
country without their mothers and fathers, a fact that struck my father
very deeply as a young boy. Even during the course of the 4 years,
when my Grandmother hid my father in the hay in the back of the
house for weeks because the boys were being taken to the front,
my father never harbored any hate for the invading army.
Donald Buyze, WWI Historian and Sandy's guide throughout the trip.
During my latest visit to Belgium, I thought of my father often as
I visited every museum and cemetery possible related to WWI. 
My dear friend and colleague Donald Buyze, who is from Wervik
and a WWI historian, was my travel guide and host. During our
time together, I created hours of footage and shot over 500 photos
which are being incorporated into a documentary and will be used
as a guide for those who want to travel to Belgium to see for
themselves the very grounds where 50 nations changed the course
of the war.
One of the must sees is the haunting Red Star Line museum in Antwerp
where visitors can find their ancestors names and how they emigrated
from so many countries around Europe and beyond.  The museum is
housed in the actual buildings where immigrants where processed for
their Atlantic ocean voyage. If you are on a river cruise in the area,
Antwerp is a port where visitors will see the Red Star Line Museum
just a few steps from their ship. A day trip to Flanders Fields is easy
and doable from Antwerp.

The Red Star Line ocean steamers paved the way to a new life
for about two million men, women and children between 1873 and 1934.

Visiting the cemeteries in Waregem, Poperinge and Wervik and
observing the emotional Last Post which happens each night in
Ipers was just part of my experience. I also stayed a night at the
Talbot House where weary British soldiers came for a night or two
of respite. It brought home the actual experience of these young
men and seasoned soldiers.

 Last Post happens each night in Ipers

As a part of my coverage, I interviewed Dr. Peter DeWilde, on 
BusinessTravelRADIO. An historian, professor and clearly one
of Europe's tourism leaders.  
Dr. Wilde shared his personal
journey as a history professor with an emphasis on understanding
how studying history gives us the opportunity to learn from mistakes
and most importantly, not to repeat those mistakes. 
conversation is enlightening, serious, and will hopefully provide
our listeners with an incentive to go, experience and remember
that there is never a good reason to fight, to kill and scar this
precious earth.

To Listen to Dr DeWildes Interview go to:

About the Author Sandy Dhuyvetter:

Sandy is an award winning producer and host of TravelTalkRADIO
and BusinessTravelRADIO and has successfully launched a
host of businesses including her current media company
called TravelTalkMEDIA.

Born into a household of all girls, Sandy has 3 big sisters who
were as much as 21 years older . By the time she was three,
all of her sisters had embarked on their journeys as moms and
wives and Sandy was in much of the sense of the word, raised
as an only child whose parents gave her art, music and much
of their time. She heard many stories of the ‘old country’ and
her father’s voyage to America. Sandy’s mother’s parents came
on the Red Star Line just a year before her mother was born.
English was her parents second language. Sandy often says
“we spoke Kitchen English as my parents continued throughout
their lives to combine the Flemish and English language”.
Her family still chuckles about that memory. 

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful story that shows the transforming power of travel. Sandy brilliantly weaves together her recent visit to Belgium with the history of the country. The story of Belgium, its sad memories of war, the natural beauty of the country, and the vibrant story of its immigrants -- including the journey of Sandy's family to America - are combined to create a wonderful tale of Belgium.

    John J. - New York City