Tragedy strikes “home”

I will never forget what I was doing on September 11 when I heard that a plane hit the first tower. I was a sophomore at Syracuse University, returning to my room from my Chinese language class at 8:30 a.m. (seriously – Chinese that early in the morning should be forbidden). I bumped into someone who told me what happened and I raced to my room, turned on the TV, and saw a plane hit the second tower.

It was my country, my city, our national tragedy. That day everyone was a mess. We weren’t in the city, but the vast majority of us came from there. No one knew what was going on. People were confused and crying. We vowed to never forget.

Last week, the Netherlands’ experienced a national tragedy, when MH17 crashed on its way from Amsterdam to Indonesia. The country has banded together to mourn the victims and provide support. I saw the following a few times: Relative to the population of the Netherlands, it has suffered a greater loss of life in this Ukraine air crash than the US did on 9/11. The Netherlands lost almost 200 people that day.

I work for a Dutch company and we had two moments of silence – Friday, July 18 and Wednesday, July 23. July 23 was also a National Day of Mourning in the Netherlands. My VP was saying the last time that happened, the Queen passed away. As a sign of respect, we lowered our flags half staff at our Dutch offices to honor the victims.

I didn’t think I would become so emotionally invested in this tragedy since I still don’t consider the Netherlands to be my “home.” But everyone has been affected, from the heart wrenching site scenes to the emotional return of the victims to the Netherlands. The country and people have reacted in such a dignified and human manner. I truly admire and appreciate the open and honest communication – coming from all forms of government and authority (the Royal Family, the mayor of Amsterdam, the UN spokesperson, down to the CEO of Wolters Kluwer Netherlands). Right now, it doesn’t matter what your mother country is. We are all Dutch.

MH17 victims


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2 thoughts on “Tragedy strikes “home”

  • July 27, 2014 at 8:01 am

    Thanks for sharing this. I was in the Netherlands last month working with a client that has their HQ there, and have been thinking about everyone there. It’s been so hard to watch the videos and hear the stories about MH17 from the US, and I can only imagine what it’s like to be there in the middle of it. Quite the contrast from watching the Netherlands play in the world cup. I wish I could give the entire country a hug.

    (And thanks for participating in the #MyGlobalLife Link-Up.)

    • July 27, 2014 at 12:26 pm

      Hi Cate,
      Sorry, I missed you last month! Yes, quite the contrast from the energetic World Cup vibe (even though I was rooting for Germany). Thanks for inviting me to #MyGlobalLinkLife!


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