Malaysia’s High Commissioner to Australia Datuk Zainal Abidin Ahmad was among the dignitaries and families gathered at Parliament House in Canberra on Friday for a national memorial service to mark the first anniversary of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 disaster.
Ahead of the service in the Great Hall, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott unveiled a plaque in a nearby garden etched with the names of the 38 Australian citizens and residents killed in the tragedy.
The Australian Associated Press (AAP) reported that the plinth sits in soil brought back by an Australian police officer from the crash site near Donetsk, close to the Ukraine-Russia border.
Besides Zainal Abidin, diplomatic representatives from nations that lost loved ones in the disaster were present.
Abbott recognised the families of the dead which had endured the worst year of their lives. “Hardly a moment would go by when you don’t think of a parent, a child, a sibling, a friend present in your thoughts but painfully absent from your life,” he told the more than 500 people gathered for the ceremony held in Canberra’s bleak weather conditions.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten echoed the Prime Minister’s words: “Grief is a solitary emotion. It can come up behind you like a following wave in unguarded moments.”