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Memorial Service for MH17 Victims

Aired July 23, 2014 - 13:30   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MINISTER (through translation): Lord, we thank you for words of consolation and encouragement from so many. We thank you for the efforts of family and friends, of rescue workers and experts, of our government and others in charge at national and international levels. Lord, we pray, please, also give us consolation in the future that this sense of solidarity will remain and will grow, that from solidarity there will be space and room in our lives to listen and to give us a space in our hearts for each other's needs. Lord, please follow on this path with us today and all days of our lives.


UNIDENTIFIED MINISTER (through translation): We pray to you in Jesus' name who has shared the fate of his people and we pray the words that he has given us and how we have been taught. Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, may your kingdom come, on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us our daily bread and forgive us our sins. For we also forgive others. Forsake us from evil.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: You've been listening to some of the memorial services that have begun. That one in St. Yuris Church in Amersfoort. On the left-hand side of your screen, you're seeing near Hilversum the procession of 40 hearses, 40 of the fallen. And I use that term, "the fallen." And Barbara Starr points out that the way these people were return was, in many ways, as one, the way many would welcome back soldiers from the battlefield. Let's listen in.


COOPER: You've been listening to a memorial service taking place at St. Yuris Church in Amersfoort. And the hearses now, 40 hearses, getting very close to Hilversum in the Netherlands. We're showing you just the sheer numbers of people who have come out to welcome these 40, the first of the fallen, the first 40 of the fallen. There will be more in the days ahead.

And it's extraordinary, when you think of this, Richard Quest, who's joining me now, that this is really just the beginning for the people of the Netherlands and all the families around the world.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: And you rightly say welcome, because that's what this is. It is an opportunity. It is a moment for people. They don't know who are in those hearses. They don't know the nationalities. But they do know today, as one person has just sent me a message, today, we are all Dutch, we are all Australian, Malaysian, German. We're all with the Indonesians, the Belgium, the Filipinos, the Canadians, and those from New Zealand as we watch as they head towards the moment where, of course, their journey begins and ends.

COOPER: As a grandmother, who lost two of her grandsons, said earlier on CNN, that before seeing the outpouring of emotion in the Netherlands, before seeing the flowers, the teddy bears, the pictures that have been left at makeshift memorials at the airport where the victims first returned that have been thrown on to the roads and then cleared away, as that grandmother said, she said, we thought it was just us, we thought it was just us in our grief, we thought it was just us in our sorrow. But clearly, on this day, for many days to come, it is not just the families of the fallen.

QUEST: What a beautiful day. What beautiful scenery. Fareed Zakaria quite rightly points out the magnificence of the scenery.

It looks as if the funeral procession is arriving.

COOPER: Let's just listen in as the people watch the procession arriving now in Hilversum. May not be able to hear the crowds over the helicopters, but let's just listen.


COOPER: One viewer tweeted me a few minutes ago from the Netherlands, saying, "My country is silenced by grief." And I think that really comes into my mind, just seeing the reactions. Some people applaud. There is scattered applause. But many just stand silently. Some throw flowers. We saw to reach out to try to even touch the hearses.

Again, 40 people. We don't know who they are. But it doesn't matter, as you said earlier today.

QUEST: And just to say -- what I said a second ago, Anderson, what a magnificent day, of course, what I'm referring to here is the sense of respect and dignity to which these people are finally being accorded. This is the -- this is the moment when we step up to the plate. This is the moment when we behave as we are meant to behave. Not as the thugs in the fields of Ukraine.

COOPER: Magnificent when juxtaposed against the horror of the brutality of -- and the lack of ability, the lack of confidence, the lack of concern, the way these people were treated in those fields in eastern Ukraine.

QUEST: We shouldn't give them quarter at this moment. They are not worthy of our thoughts. Because this is what today is all about.

COOPER: We'll listen in to a minister speaking at the memorial service right now. Let's listen in at St. Yuris.

UNIDENTIFIED MINISTER (through translation): -- to us and for us, and we will probably recognize him, and to help him, Paul is making it even more concrete, that love of god, that love is given to us through Jesus. Very near, in other people, we can see that. As a human, he can look death in the eye. He is one with the victims. I'm sure that Ruth and Naomi are saying to each other only death will part us, you and me. And that is how we experience it. That love and life and death are fighting against each other, but Paul takes it one step further. In the end, love will prevail. Love is alive.


COOPER: If you're just joining us, our viewers around the world watching us on CNN International, we're seeing an extraordinary outpouring of emotion. For a country, which doesn't -- many -- often doesn't show emotion, it doesn't wear emotion on its sleeve, but this is a day where people are, with great dignity, have come out in huge numbers, just in huge numbers, to welcome these people home.

QUEST: The word that's used of course is stoic. Normally stoic in the face of adversity. Today, they are united in a moment of grief.

The hearses now turning from the road into the base, into the camp, the military camp, where up to 75 experts will await their arrival.



UNIDENTIFIED MINISTER (through translation): -- from the requiem of --


COOPER: Sustained applause continuing for each of the hearses. 40 hearses in all.

Again, I've said this before, but it bears repeating, this is just the beginning. Not only the beginning for these 40 souls, but the beginning for the people of the Netherlands, waiting for more to arrive, waiting for others to arrive. Family members of some of the fallen.

Richard Quest and I were talking earlier about the statements made by the Dutch foreign minister at the U.N. two days ago. I just want to play some of what he said as we see families -- again, I just want to -- before we do that, let me point out, this is in Hilversum, in the Netherlands, a town of 85,000 people. According to the mayor who we spoke to a short time ago, 13 people from this town of 85,000 from the Netherlands died in flight 17.

A young man, Quinn, who had dual American citizenship, 19 years old, if my memory serves me correctly, his family was from this town. But Quinn himself was born in the United States when his father worked for the Dutch government here in the United States at the embassy.

I want to play something that the Dutch foreign minister said two days ago that I tried to recount earlier, and frankly, am unable to, because I just found it so powerful. And Richard Quest was able to. But let's hear it from the Dutch foreign minister himself, what he said at the U.N. Security Council.


FRANS TIMMERMANS, DUTCH FOREIGN MINISTER: How horrible it must have been, the final moments of their lives, when they knew the plane was going down. Did they lock hands with their loved ones? Did they hold their children close to their hearts? Did they look each other in the eyes, one final time, in a wordless goodbye? We will never know. The demise of almost 200 of my compatriots has left a hole in the heart of the Dutch nation. This caused grief, anger and despair. Grief for the loss of the loved ones. Anger for the outrage of the downing of a civilian airplane. And despair after witnessing the excruciatingly slow process of securing the crash site and recovering the remains of the victims.

The last couple of days, we have received very disturbing reports of bodies being moved about and looted for their possessions. Just one minute, addressing you as representatives of your countries, but as husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, just imagine that you first get the news that your husband was killed. And then within two or three days, you see images of some thug removing a wedding band from their hands. Just imagine that this could be your spouse.

To my dying day, I will not understand that it took so much time for the rescue workers to be allowed to do their difficult jobs. And that human remains should be used in a political game. If somebody here around the table talks about a political game, this is the political game that has been played with human remains, and it is despicable.


COOPER: Dutch foreign minister speaking at the United Nations two days ago.

The scene now over the Netherlands, the 40 hearses have reached their destination. They will be taken care of by examiners there.

But we continue to see among the thousands, the tens of thousands who have come out on this day to pay their respects. Yet another makeshift memorial has sprung up. It's really something we have gotten used to seeing around the world in times like this, people gathering, people coming. Nobody tells them, this is where you should come, but somebody starts and they bring a bouquet of flowers, somebody lights a candle and brings a photograph, and then another person and then another, and it buildings builds and builds. And no doubt this scene, this makeshift memorial, will get larger as the one in Amsterdam's airport will, as well.

QUEST: This is so important. Because in this moment, we claim the decency we require at moments of grief. In this moment, we take back from the thugs in eastern Ukraine the desecration of the principles and the values that we hold dear. And Anderson, in this moment, which is why it's so important. Whether these memorials and co condolence books are in London, Berlin, Washington, or Kuala Lumpur, because we send the strongest message that we reclaim what humanity stands for. COOPER: People from all around the world, all different faith, but

today in the Netherlands, at this church, it is a message of faith that we are hearing.

Let's listen in as we watch people lay flowers at this memorial.

UNIDENTIFIED MINISTER (through translation): Bless you today, and may he show you the right path. May the Lord always be with you to take you in his arms and to protect you from all danger. May the Lord always be with you to protect you from attacks. May the Lord always be beneath you to carry you through life and to catch you when you fall. May the Lord always be new to console you when you are sad. May the Lord always be around you in your friends and the people around you. May the Lord be above you to bless you. May the Lords take us now and for always and protect us. That is how we bless -- how we are blessed by the Lord. Amen.


COOPER: It is -- the service there is beginning to -- has now ended. People filing out of St. Yuris Church, to lay flowers outside the memorial, just as in Hilversum, and at the airport in Amsterdam, and all throughout the Netherlands, in towns large and small, towns that have felt and borne the cost of this tragedy, that have felt pain of the families, that know family members. 13 family members in Hilversum, Netherlands.

Joined also here by Richard Quest as we continue to watch this extraordinary outpouring of emotion.

QUEST: And, of course, would this be -- if this was just the first -- if this was the only, it would be unbearable in itself. But it is not. It is the first of 40 that have arrived back. We have at least 250 more to come back over the next few days. And that, I think, speaks to volumes for what the Dutch are doing today, because they will have to do this again tomorrow and the next day with the same dignity and solemnity they have given to these people. We know that 200 were on board the aircraft. We believe they were. But how many? No one knows, of the victims recovered. We know that further searches have to take place in Ukraine. And that's crucial, Anderson, because the investigators and the examiners and the experts have to now still push forward. Even as we grieve in it Hilversum, we have to push forward in it Ukraine to get safe access to those fields so that more, all, every, can be returned.

COOPER: It is just the beginning for the family members. It is just one stop on the road of grief, a road that will be long, that there is no timetable for, that there is no road map for. Their grief is shared, obviously, by many around the world, by all of us, certainly on this day, but in days to come as people get on with their lives and return to their work. It is those family members who will bear that grief in their hearts and in their lives for the rest of their days.

The bells tolling throughout the Netherlands now on this national day of mourning.