Today is a day of national mourning back in The Netherlands: the first one in 52 years, after one of our longest serving monarchs died. The crash of the MH17 has shaken the world and taken 298 lives of which 193 Dutch ones. The tragedy during summer holidays means that whole families were wiped away with one press of a button.
A few weeks ago, we united in orange watching all 23 of our best footballers compete for the World Cup. Millions of us screamed at our screens in living rooms, pubs and communal greens: we witnessed men fly, score, win and finally succumb – only rise again to bronze glory.
United as we were in expectation, hope and celebration, this has been transformed into collective grief. 193 people: in a small country such as The Netherlands, it means you know someone who knows someone on that flight.
The reactionary outcry about politics and alliances has only been heard outside of the borders. The response from the Dutch government has been called careful and measured, with articles alluding to the country’s strong ties with Russia. Yes. True. Yet we have all seen the result of pointing guns, gung-ho sans evidence… Not that we have the guns…
Our allies with their own agendas seem keen to lend us a hand but they can’t make a move until we move. Is it surprising that The Netherlands is seemingly still? I imagine that the country in itself feels sixteen million times over that what I try to express, unscathed and a North Sea away. For them there is no war-mongering and terrorism threat on the front-pages: just shock and silence.
Tomorrow evening I will land at the same airport that today welcomed back the first bodies of flight MH17. The timing is coincidental but at this time of national grief, I cannot think of a better place to be than home.