They never came back
No-one has yet been prosecuted for the attack but the Dutch-led joint investigation team says it has identified a list of 100 "persons of interest". They say the plane was brought down by a Buk missile brought in from Russian territory and fired from a field in the hands of pro-Russian rebels.
The memorial site, the first official monument chosen by their families, is a short drive from Schiphol airport, where three years ago to the day many would have waved their final goodbyes.
But they still have not named any suspects. Many of the families are struggling to keep their faith in the international community's ability to bring to justice the people who carried out the attack.
Malaysia's transport minister hinted the first arrest warrants may be issued later this year or early in 2018. There has been no confirmation from the Dutch prosecutors leading the criminal investigation.
Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution in 2015 to establish an international tribunal.
Instead members of the JIT have agreed that any future trials will be conducted in the Netherlands in accordance with Dutch law - which means the accused could be tried in absentia.
If the suspects are in Russia, few believe they will be extradited. The victims' relatives will also be offered the chance to speak in court.
Russia and the pro-Russian rebels in the east deny any involvement in the rocket attack. But on Monday Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Russia must be held to account.
Addressing the families, Evert van Zijtveld said the memorial was a tangible, permanent place to reflect. His teenage son, daughter and parents-in-law were on board MH17.
"With the sun, rain and fertile earth," he told the audience, "the trees will flourish and allow our loved ones to live on in our hearts."
Add Commentall comments
The European Union has expressed concern about US plans to impose fresh...
Muslims break their Ramadan fast after sunset by eating halal Mexican...
A US move to expand sanctions against Russia may have an adverse impact...
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte acknowledged Tuesday that...
The ex-Soviet nations of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have agreed to...
Only days before Serbia's presidential election, seven major newspapers...