As a young Singaporean growing up, I saw how my Mom toiled to put food on the table and to fend for the family. I saw how not everyone was born with a silver spoon in our mouths but I experienced first hand the redeeming grace of meritocracy in bridging the gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. I who had so little to start with now lead a contented life with no lack (yes contentment is a choice and an invaluable virtue) but the reality is, most Singaporeans have a comfortable roof over our heads, decent education, respectable jobs and some can afford to go on vacations more than once a year. We have one of the most safe and secure environments to work, live, study and play in. We do not have shootings in our Universities or looting in our streets. For these, I am thankful.
Every year as Singapore’s National Day draws near, a great sense of pride and gratitude towards Singapore would sweeps over me. In our home, we’ve made it a tradition to involve Dana in hanging up the National Flag; we also adorn our car wing mirrors with cute National Flag covers to spread some patriotism on the road; we would play and sing old and new National Day songs with Dana and every year without fail, we would camp at strategic sites along the waterfront just to catch the mesmerizing NDP fireworks.
|I spy…a little Patriot at the Parade!|
This year, I was pleasantly surprised to be picked one of the winners of the Straits Times ’48 word Singaporean Story’ NDP Contest among the 500 entries submitted. I’ve won two tickets to the National Day Parade Preview on 3 August 2013 but we desperately needed one more to go as a family. We prayed and posted our request on facebook. The day before the NDP Preview, a friend rang me up to offer us the extra ticket! Praise God for social media! With great anticipation and unbridled excitement, our family of 3 set off to attend Dana’s very 1st NDP parade on the Marina Bay Floating Platform.
|Her smiles say it all – we finally made it here!|
We arrived slightly past 4pm as Daddy wanted a good vantage point of the parade. As we made our way to the floating platform from the Esplanade, we saw many families dressed in red (just like we are!) and instantly, we felt a sense of camaraderie and solidarity – all of us, regardless of where we live, what we do, or how we look like, have one common goal – that is to celebrate our Nation’s Birthday! The atmosphere at the floating platform was upbeat and everyone was determined to give our Nation the best celebration!
I enjoyed the pre-parade segments where the four multi-talented emcees (Sebastian Tan, Gurmit Singh, Vernetta Lopez and Siti Khalijah) entertained the spectators with their witty banter, sing-alongs and the Great Singapore Wave!
|Doing the Great Singapore Wave!|
|Dana joining in the fun!|
We also enjoyed the candid segments where a troop of ‘Kachang Puteh’ Men would run down the isles tossing packets of Kachang Putehs to the crowds. There was also a spontaneous Singapore pop quiz segment where faces of unsuspecting spectators would be randomly flashed on the big screen and all they had to do was to flash their choice of answer by showing a ‘one’, ‘two’ or ‘three’ using their fingers. We could also Instagram photos taken at the parade with the hashtag #NDP2013 which were instantly projected onto the big screens. It was very interactive and fun.
|And here he comes…|
|The SAF Red Lions|
Other crowd pleasers include the SAF Red Lion who parachuted from a height of 5000ft high and these mighty fighter jets doing their stuns.
|Stunning Aerial Displays…|
Next came an interesting Dynamic Defence Display where the Army, Navy, Airforce, Civil Defence and Police Force showcased their artillery and capabilities. Dana was particularly thrilled when the cast of ‘Ah Boys to Men’ movie came onto the stage to sing the theme song.
|A glimpse at the faces behind our Defence…|
|Special appearance by Ah Boys to Men!|
|The Navy Coastguards…|
|Coming close to armed Men in Green…|
|Flying our flag high…|
|A salute to our flag…|
|Overview of the Parade Contingent|
|Fighter Jets doing the Star Burst Formation…|
Throughout the parade, Dana was in high spirits. She cheered, she clapped, she sang and she waved the little flag with much fervour. Apart from giving all Primary 5 children the chance to watch the NDP rehearsals ‘live’, the organising committee should consider extending that invitation to all 5-year olds too! Just ask any parent and they’ll tell you how patriotic their 5-year olds can be!
|Soaking in the great National Day atmosphere…|
I thought this year’s Parade weaved in the theme, ‘Many Stories, One Singapore‘ really well. Besides the usual schools, community and military participation, there were segments devoted to showcase our children and our National Athletes (including paralympians like the Wheelchair Basketball Team and Equestrian Larentia Tan). There was also a short but inspiring performance aptly titled ‘Chasing your Stars’ by a hearing-impaired Theatre Artiste. This could augment our Nation’s dedication to become a more inclusive society.
When night fell, the floating platform was transformed into a magical sea of lights when all spectators started waving the light sticks that came with our NDP fun packs. Photos can’t do justice to the electrifying atmosphere especially at the pledge moment and when the fireworks started lighting up the night sky with its splendor.
|Time to use our light sticks!|
|Sea of Red and Orange…|
|Reciting the National Pledge with conviction…|
|The crowd went wild with the Giant Inflatables!|
|It takes more than 4000 people working tirelessly to make the Parade run like clockwork…|
|Pyrotechnics and fireworks adding a magical touch to the celebration…|
|The moment everyone’s been waiting for…|
|The finale of the Parade!|
|Happy 48th Birthday Singapore!|
Life on this tiny red dot have sometimes been alluded to a stressful rat race. This is true of all cosmopolitan financial capitals around the world. We must manage our expectations that there will never be a perfect country (just as the notion of a perfect husband, wife or partner will always remain a fallacy). I take comfort that as long as we are in Singapore, the five nation’s ideals of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality will always be preached and upheld; and that this is the place where it is safe to raise our kid(s). National Day is a time for Singaporeans to count our blessings. Like interconnected stories, may we strive to stay united and make a personal commitment to give back (within our means) what we have reaped from our meritocratic society so that no fellow men will be left behind.
As parents, we are heartened that we are able to bring Dana to watch the parade ‘live’ this year and let her experience the patriotic mood as we celebrate our Nation’s independence. It is our hope that her loyalty and pride for Singapore will take root from a tender age so that in future, no matter where her destiny takes her, she will always call this little sunny island ‘Home’.
|Proud to be Singaporeans!|