The nationally televised event in Amsterdam highlighted the ongoing grief, disbelief and anger of the families and friends of those killed when the Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was downed on July 17 over conflict-hit eastern Ukraine.
Most of the victims were Dutch, but passengers and crew from 19 different countries died.
Gita Wiegel, 13, recalled cuddling her mother at Schiphol airport before she boarded Flight 17. “The idea I would have to miss her for four weeks was terrible,” she said. “But this, this is far more terrible. The last SMS I got from her was ‘See you in four weeks, darling. Take good care of yourself’.”
Relative Paul Marckelbach recited a poem, sobbing as he read the final word: “Why?” Others, some choking back tears, read out the names and ages of all 298 victims. It took 23 minutes.
About 1,600 family and friends of the victims were joined for the event by Dutch King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima, Prime Minister Mark Rutte and other dignitaries.