Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Dutch Flags Fly at Half Mast

I imagine that the events today in Apeldoorn have hit every person living in the Netherlands hard. It goes against everything ingrained in Queen's Day, a day that is special even to us non-Dutchies.

We actually decided to spend Queen's Day in the Keukenhof, figuring most people would be out elsewhere celebrating, leaving the Keukenhof a bit quieter than usual. As a result we didn't hear about the cancellation of the celebrations in Apeldoorn, the place marked for the royal visit today, until the five o'clock news on the radio.

Hearing it was a shock. Seeing the pictures on television at home a few hours later brought reality crashing home.

A black Suzuki rammed through a barrier at high speed, straight through the crowds, stopping only when he crashed into the metal railings around De Naald monument.

His intended victims were, by his own admission in the seconds after the crash, Queen Beatrix and her family, who watched on visibly shocked from their open top bus driving alongside the car. The Queen has since made a statement before the cameras, extending her sympathy to those involved. She was very clearly horrified and shaken by the events that took place before her eyes.

Five people have lost their lives. At least twelve others are injured, including children, and some of the victims are in a serious condition.

The events of today are truly shocking; a day that should have been about fun and laughter, which even started off that way, turned into tragedy and tears.

There is already discussion about the future of Queen's Day and how future celebrations will be held. My own view is that there is time enough for these discussion in the weeks and months to come. For now, our thoughts are with the families of those who left their houses this morning, no doubt adorned in orange, excited about seeing the Queen and her family, never to return. Our thoughts are with those who are at the side of those victims in hospital, and for those who return home tonight permanently scarred by events on a day that should have been about celebrating.

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