Nightly News   |  April 17, 2010

Leaders struggle to reach Poland for funeral

World leaders' who planned to attend the funeral of President Lech Kaczynski in Poland on Sunday remained in limbo as volcanic ash from Iceland continued to ground flights to and from Europe. NBC's Jim Maceda reports.

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>> trish regan , thank you very much .

>>> that cloud of ash is also preventing several world leaders including president obama from flying to tomorrow's funeral mass in poland for victims of last week's plane crash . today tens of thousands of people did come to a public memorial in warsaw 's biggest public square . our story from nbc 's jim maceda .

>> reporter: 8:56 this morning, one week to the minute since the tragedy struck, and the whole nation stopped for a moment of silence . hours later, at least 100,000 poles crammed into warsaw 's main square for an outdoor memorial service .

>> lech kaczynski , maria kaczynska .

>> reporter: the names of all 96 victims starting with the deceased president and his wife were read out, their photos projected on huge tv screens. bishops, lawmakers, generals, poland 's loss was profound. this list is like the hole of poland , says the prime minister, and it is like all our history. even as warsaw said good-bye, final touches were being made for sunday's state funeral in krakow, poland 's ancient capital. the tomb that will hold the presidential couple's remains ready for burial, in a crypt to be shared with none other than a 20th century military icon. that triggered protests by those who don't believe president kaczynski, however admired, deserves to be buried in the resting place of poland 's kings and heros.

>> he's done nothing such important or such big to be buried in here.

>> reporter: but others disagree, and at least 100 world dignitaries have planned to attend tomorrow's funeral to pay their respects to the polish leader, but that was before the cloud of volcanic grit shut down polish air space as well. now, one leader after another has, with regrets, canceled the trip including obama who today cited hazardous flying conditions. the kaczynski family says the funeral will go on, marking the end of poland 's official mourning, if not its national trauma . jim maceda , nbc news, krakow.