A National Memorial was held in the Netherlands on Monday 10th November for the 196 Dutch citizens killed on board flight MH17, which was downed over eastern Ukraine in July. Of the 298 people on board Nine bodies are still missing and a proper investigation has yet to start because of the ongoing fighting in the area between Ukrainian government forces and Russian backed separatists.
This was a highly emotional ceremony of remembrance.
The Dutch King and Queen were there, as were politicians and diplomats, but most importantly, 1600 relatives mourning their lost loved ones.
Several spoke bravely of their grief. 13 year old Gita Wiegel lost her Mother. She told the audience her heart is breaking.
There was a white candle for each of the 298 people onboard – every name was read out and remembered. Prime Minister Mark Rutte said they will never be forgotten.
“With every fibre of our being we want these 298 people to get their due. Not only today, at this national ceremony where we pay respects and honour their memory, but also in the future. Today we will read their names aloud. They will not be forgotten.”
Monday’s ceremony may have provided emotional support to the relatives but so many questions remain unanswered. A proper investigation to determine what happened to flight MH17 and who was responsible still hasn’t started, nine bodies are still missing, no wreckage has yet been recovered and justice for those who died seems as far away as ever.
Dutch investigators were to have started collecting evidence at the crash site on Monday, but were again postponed because of fighting close by.
For Robert Van Heyningen who lost his brother the ceremony itself was a huge help;
“it’s not ending this day but this day symbolizes all the warmth of the Dutch community and it goes right to my heart and it helps me a lot about grieving for my family,”
Monday’s ceremony showed the relatives their country grieves with them. But for those who need to know what happened and who want justice? It seems they might have to wait a very long time.