A year has passed since the MH17 air disaster. It happened on July 17th 2014 and Hilversum was one of the towns hardest hit. Fifteen residents were killed among the 298 passengers on board.
To commemorate one year since the tragedy, Hilversum is in bloom. The town is awash with bright yellow sunflowers.
According to some news reports, the seeds were taken from a field near the Ukrainian town of Torez, where the plane crashed, and were given to a victim’s father by a journalist who covered the disaster. They state that some were passed on to St Vitus church and others were entrusted to the city’s chief gardener, Hans Roon, who planted them in Hilversum’s botanical garden. (Sources: RFE/RL and The Guardian)
Sunflowers in Hilversum (Zonnebloemen in Hilversum)
Sunflowers at St Vitus Church, Hilversum. (Zonnebloemen bij de St Vitus kerk in Hilversum.)
Today’s post will be short one, because at 16.00 local time (it’s currently 15.15), there will be a minute’s silence for MH17. The first plane bringing home the Malaysian Airlines victims is expected to arrive in the Netherlands today at that time (at an airbase in Eindhoven), and it is officially a national day of mourning. In addition to the one minute of silence, flags are flying at half mast and a “Silent March” is taking place in Amsterdam at 20.00, departing from Dam Square.
Flags at half mast
I would also like to share another link with you: a powerful and eloquent speech by Frans Timmermans (Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs) to the UN Security Council.
On Friday morning I turned on my laptop to write a light-hearted post about my weekend trip to Utrecht. Instead I spent hours reading articles and blog posts about MH17 and listening to the radio for updates.
I won’t pretend to know too much about this tragedy. I only know what I’ve read. I didn’t know anyone on board. But the Netherlands is a small country, “193 people is a lot for us.”
“Everyone knows someone, or someone who knew someone.” (anastasiahacopian.com)
Such true words. At the gym, a woman broke down in the changing rooms. My instructor was also mourning her friend who had been on board.
It’s so incredibly sad. I’ve cried several times since Friday, reading about these people I don’t even know, but somehow I feel a connection. The Netherlands is my home now. Dutch people are MY people.
Therefore I couldn’t let this tragedy pass unmentioned. My blog posts can wait. In the meantime I just wanted to share a few links with you, in addition to the tear-jerking post from Anastasia above.
BBC: What we know
Amanda van Mulligen, MH17: A plane has crashed
Colleen Geske (Stuff Dutch People Like) A tribute to Antoine van Veldhuizen, a Dutch friend lost on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17
Personal message from the Expatica Team
My sincere condolences to the crew, passengers, families and friends of those on board flight MH17.