Flight MH17 shot down over the Ukraine carried people who passionately loved life – and some of those people shared their remarkable skills seeking to cure HIV AIDS.
The plane carried world leaders headed for the International AIDS Conference hosted this year in Melbourne. Dutch researcher Joep Lange, who has worked in AIDS research and treatment since 1983, was on board with his partner, Jacqueline van Tongeren.
Media reports state nearly 100 passengers who were AIDS advocates, leaders, and humanitarians were on flight MH17 headed to the conference.
When tragedy so encompassing overwhelms us, I am reminded of Henry David Thoreau’s mandate not to retreat from life, but to passionately persevere:
“On the death of a friend, we should consider that the fates through confidence have devolved on us the task of a double living, that we have henceforth to fulfill the promise of our friend's life also, in our own, to the world.”
We pause in solidarity with all families, friends and leaders who grieve this unfathomable tragedy. May those attending the AIDS conference in Melbourne hold the memory of their colleagues in their hearts as they continue their commitment to ending HIV/AIDS, fulfilling the promise of friends' lives, too.