Brussels Airport wished to pay tribute to all the victims of the attacks on the airport with a commemoration ceremony in the presence of the King and Queen. The commemoration took place in front of the terminal, where 1,500 people, including victims and their relatives, rescue workers and airport employees who were closely involved in the tragic events a year ago, gathered.
Following the ceremony, the sculpture ‘Flight in mind’ by artist Olivier Strebelle was be inaugurated in a memorial garden dedicated to the victims of the attacks. Bearing traces of the attacks, the work of art will be a silent witness and a tribute to the victims.
During a serene ceremony in front of the departure hall of Brussels Airport His Royal Highness King Philip, Her Royal Highness Queen Mathilde, Prime Minister Charles Michel and the entire airport community paid tribute to the victims of the attacks a year ago.
After the reading of the deceased victims’ names, a minute’s silence was held, followed by the laying of the wreath. A victim of the attacks and a firefighter from Brussels Airport Company, who was one of the first rescuers on the scene, gave testimony.
At 7.58 hours, the time when the first bomb exploded in the departure hall, all activity at the airport will fell silent for one minute: check-in, baggage conveyor belts, shops, restaurants, boarding of passengers, loading and unloading of luggage and freight on planes, all the planes on the tarmac, all take-offs and landings. The 260 companies at the airport observed a minute of silence in their offices. The buses of De Lijn on the airport site will also stopped and switched off their engines.
“Our thoughts go out today to the victims of the tragic attacks which hit our country on 22 March 2016. The victims have shown incredible courage in overcoming their pain and are still showing it today. This date will for ever remain a difficult anniversary for our country, for everyone in the airport community and especially for the victims of this unimaginable event. We have gone through a trying and intense year, driven as we were by the will to repair the damage of these attacks as quickly as possible: the material damage as well as the human damage”, said Arnaud Feist, CEO van Brussels Airport Company.
Inauguration of the monumental sculpture “Flight in Mind” and of the memorial garden
Following the ceremony in front of the departure hall, a delegation headed for the memorial garden for the victims of the attacks at the entrance to the airport site. The work ‘Flight in mind’ by artist Olivier Strebelle was relocated there as a permanent reminder and a symbol of support for everyone who has been affected by the attacks.
The work was damaged during the attacks on the airport on 22 March and was then removed from the terminal. Today, on the first anniversary of the attacks, ‘Flight in mind’ is given a new role in a new place at the entrance to the airport. The site is open to the public and is laid out as a memorial garden built around the sculpture in memory of the victims of the attacks.
In consultation with the artist, the decision was taken not to repair the work, but to restore it instead. “With its wounds, the sculpture will always be a silent witness to the attacks of 22 March 2016 and a tribute to all the victims. It will forever bear the scars of those cowardly deeds. At the same time, for many among us, today more than ever, the sculpture’s “wings” are a symbol of freedom. With the scars of the attack permanently visible, as a metaphor of the victims, it is also a strong symbol of resilience, strength and courage”, says Arnaud Feist, CEO of Brussels Airport Company about the inauguration of the sculpture and the memorial site.
Brussels Airport, 22 March 2017