OOSTNIEUWKERKE, Belgium — Mourners packed a local church or wept in the rain of a quaint town square at the Saturday funeral for a Belgian victim of lower Manhattan’s truck-driving terrorist.
The 3,000 residents of Oostnieuwkerke gathered sadly for the farewell to beloved hometown fixture Ann-Laure Decadt, 31, who left for a New York vacation barely two weeks earlier.
“This is Belgians weeping for Belgians and weeping for the world, for New York,” singer Wim Opbrouck, a well-known Flemish actor and singer, told the Daily News.
Decadt, a well-known figure in the town two hours west of Brussels, died thousands of miles from home when ISIS-inspired killer Sayfullo Saipov killed eight in a Halloween truck attack.
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“She was enthusiastic,” friend Evelyn Kindt told the News during a Friday wake. “She was a really warm person … It’s just not fair.
“It’s never fair to anyone who loses someone.”
Relatives stand by the coffin of Ann-Laure Decadt, 31, killed during the terror attack in Lower Manhattan, as they arrive for the funeral on Nov. 11, 2017 in Staden.
(KURT DESPLENTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Widowed husband Alexander Naessens struggled with emotion as he spoke about his wife and their two sons – one a 3-year-old, the other a 3-month-old.
Decadt had made him the “happiest man in the world” – but was now a victim of how “modern wars” are waged, he said.
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Naessens noted the funeral fell on Armistice Day, commemorating the end of World War I. Nearly 100 years after the so-called “war to end all wars,” he noted, the world remains plagued by violence.
Decadt’s mother and two sisters, who escaped the terrorist attack unharmed, huddled quietly with relatives Saturday morning at the funeral.
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Matthew Lussenhop, the chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Belgium, was among the other attendees.
The family put out a message of peace and hope that those affected by the killing in New York would not respond with hatred.
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On Friday night, roughly 2,000 people marched through the tiny brick town in remembrance of Decadt.
The Chiro youth group, a Belgian version of scouting that once counted Decadt as a member, provided lit candles for the marchers.
Ann-Laure Decadt, of Belgium, died in the Oct. 31 attack in Lower Manhattan that killed as many as 8 people.
Many in the group remembered her assistance in games and camping, part of what her husband called a life dedicated to helping others.
The death of Decadt in New York was a reminder to the country of the terrorist threat at home – more than a year after the Brussels airport and subway attack that left 32 dead.
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Debora Huyghe, whose 21-year-old son Bart Migom was among the victims, traveled to Oostnieuwkerke from her nearby home in a show of solidarity with Decadt’s family.
Each terrorist attack, she said, brings back her pain.
Crime scene unit investigators examine a vehicle involved in a terrorist attack on the West Side Highway bike path on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017.
(James Keivom/New York Daily News)
“For me and my family and for all the other families, it’s grieving again and reliving everything again,” she said.
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