What really brought home how many people had lost their lives in the downing of MH17, was the first group being brought “home” for identification. It was not the presence of dignitaries, representatives, King, nor Queen, no – it was the line of hearses containing forty coffins.
The stark farewell ceremony on the Ukraine airport, where the coffins were loaded onto a Dutch plane was touching. The image of this plane taking off from the Ukraine airport, while an Australian plane was landing in the background to collect another load of coffins containing more victims of flight MH17 was upsetting.
The many people lining the leafy-green, winding roads and barren motorways; clapping, throwing white roses or other flowers, the signs of respect and homage being paid – it was all impressive. So were the tolling of church bells and the minute silence which most people observed.
But what really brought home what had happened, was that line of black hearses containing those first forty coffins, travelling slowly and dignified through the country. The line seemed endless. It seemed to stretch into infinity.
And this was just the beginning. These were just forty coffins and there were nearly three hundred victims! This was just the first group, the first flight – welcomed by dignitaries, representatives, King and Queen, relatives. The majority of victims would have to make do with being welcomed “home” by relatives, friends, maybe one or two politicians.
Regardless: this certainly clarified numbers. There were just forty coffins, yet when you saw the first few, you could not see the end of the line of hearses. How often do you read in the papers, hear on the radio, see on television, that somewhere on earth, a larger number of innocent people have been blown to bits, shot dead, murdered, killed, maimed. The majority of the MH17 victims will be identified and ultimately buried or cremated according to the rites of their religions. But how many other war casualties will have this luxury?
If just forty coffins look like infinity. What do over 50 million refugees, most of these fleeing war zones look like? How many innocent people are caught between or used by warring factions as hostages, like the bodies of flight MH17 had been? What about the innocent victims who do not make headlines? How far do they stretch back?
What kind of world is this?
Those few coffins, that line of hearses, certainly brought this home.