Mourners sign condolence registry at Embassy of the Netherlands in D.C.

Ukraine Ambassador signs condolence registry at the Embassy of the Netherlands in Northwest D.C. Photo: Joce Sterman/WJLA

WASHINGTON (WJLA) – They may be 4,000 miles from home, but members of the Dutch community in the District are still sharing in the grief of the families whose loved ones were killed when Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down.

On Monday, staffers at the Embassy of the Netherlands began the day with a private moment of silence. Then, they opened their doors to the public, allowing people to pay their respects by signing a book of condolences.

Outward signs of grief can be seen outside the Dutch embassy in Northwest D.C.; flowers lay at the gate, along with signs of solidarity.

“There’s been an outpouring of support toward the Netherlands,” said Peter Mollema, the deputy chief of mission at the Embassy of the Netherlands.

The embassy has witnessed love for a country that bears the lion’s share of the heartache from Thursday’s tragedy; of the names that line the embassy’s Malaysia Airlines memorial book, two thirds of them are Dutch.

Dutch citizens Bob Woudenberg and his wife didn’t expect their vacation to the United States would include a stop at the embassy. But after the plane crash over Ukraine, they felt compelled to come by, to join those putting pen to paper to share words of solace for the families of strangers.

“It is almost beyond imagination, so that’s what touches very deeply,” Woudenberg said. “It’s horrible and, moreover, we are very frequent flyers, so we realize this could happen to anybody, anywhere. And it’s disgusting what happened, really disgusting.”

The horrific event has brought a community together to express its outrage and sadness. The grieving left words of comfort, decrying conflict. Among the mourners was Olexander Motsyk, the Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S., who called the attack a horrible tragedy carried out by terrorists.

“It’s not a war now in east Ukraine,” he said. “Not only against Ukraine—it’s a war against the international community and this war must be stopped.”

The memorial book at the Embassy of the Netherlands will be bound, along with similar books from other embassies, and given to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It will then be made available to the families of those killed on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

On Tuesday, July 22, the embassy will again welcome visitors, who can sign the book between 10 a.m. and noon, as well as between 2 and 4 p.m.

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