On Monday, July 21, 2014, His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands gave a televised statement to the Dutch people after meeting with the families of the victims of Malaysian Airlines flight 17 (MH17) at the NBC Congress Center in Nieuwegein.
MH17 was shot down at a cruising altitude of 33,000 feet by a BUK ground-to-air missile on July 17, 2014, by — what many believe to be — Pro-Russian rebels in the Ukraine. Out of the 298 passengers and crew members on flight MH17 193 were Dutch citizens.
Here is what His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands had to say:
“Today a large gathering took place of families of the victims of the air disaster in eastern Ukraine. My wife and I were among those present. We were deeply touched by the moving, personal accounts of those who have lost loved ones. People whose lives are in ruins. Their sorrow, their feeling of powerlessness and their despair are heartrending. Many people said to us, ‘We at least want to take dignified leave of our loved ones’.
We understand their frustration and their pain. And we share their heartfelt wish for clarity on the cause of this disaster.
We know that their loss can never be made good. Their grief is immense. The only thing we could do today was to be with them, and listen to what they had to say.
In the last few days, people have gathered together all over the Netherlands, and they will go on doing so. In offices, schools, sports clubs and living rooms across the country. People are there for one another.
And that is especially important now, at a time of great trial for our country, when so many people are overwhelmed by grief. It is important that we hold onto one another, that we support each other and do what we can to help. And, that we open our hearts to anyone who wants to share their story. Not only now, but also in the months and years to come.
I would like to express my appreciation for all the people who are rallying around those affected by the disaster. Relatives, friends, neighbors and colleagues: you are all very much needed now.
I would also like to say how much I value the work being done by the hundreds of professionals involved in carrying out the many sad and difficult tasks that need to be done.
My wife and I sympathize deeply with all those who have been bereaved. We are with them in our thoughts. These sentiments are shared by my mother and by the other members of my family, who feel a particularly close bond with our country in these dark days.
This terrible disaster has inflicted a great wound on our society. The scar it leaves will never truly heal.
When the need is greatest, what counts is inner strength, compassion and solidarity – the very qualities that, at crucial times, our country has shown it possesses.”