Singapore—Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was recently in a mood that may be described as both patriotic and nostalgic, as he wrote about past National Day Parades in a Facebook post.
According to the Prime Minister, who has attended almost every single National Day Parade since it began in 1966, the most memorable and meaningful ones for him are the ones that he participated in.
He wrote, “I have attended nearly every National Day Parade since the first one in 1966. But the ones which left the deepest impression on me were the early ones in which I marched.”
The first parade he mentioned was in 1968, wherein he was part of a school band, playing the clarinet. A downpour drenched everyone who participated in the parade, but nobody broke ranks, and stayed in formation instead.
This left a deep mark on the then sixteen-year-old.
PM Lee continued his post,“We showed ourselves and the world that Singaporeans had the grit to stand firm in adversity.”
The parade in the following year was the 150th anniversary of the nation. He wrote about how proud he was to be leading his school band as the drum major.
“The following year, 1969, was Singapore’s 150th anniversary. I was leading my school band as drum major. All of us felt a special pride. We had invited foreign leaders for the Sesquicentenary, and we were showing them the progress we had made, not only since Stamford Raffles landed, but in the few years since independence.”
By 1971, the Prime Minister had become an officer cadet, in the still-new national service program, which had just started in 1967.
“SAFTI put up a contingent from OCS. The parade showed Singaporeans that their sons who had been called up had become fit, well trained and disciplined young men.”
The Prime Minister then noted his observation that the National Day Parade has only improved as the years have gone by.
“Since then, I have watched the National Day Parades become better year by year, as our country developed, the SAF and Home Team upgraded their capabilities and equipment, and our sense of nationhood strengthened.
I have had the privilege of contributing to this progress in different roles in my working life.”
And now, he said that he is preparing others to whom he must pass the mantle of leadership and service.
“My most critical duty now is to prepare a younger team to take over from me and my colleagues, so that Singapore will stay secure and successful after we are gone.”
The Prim Minister ended his post expressing the desire for young people to be as inspired by the Bicentennial celebration of our time in the same way that he was in his.
“Nobody can tell what the next 50 years will bring. But I hope that the young people participating in this Bicentennial parade will remember it as a formative experience, that will inspire them to serve Singapore in their own ways. Then when we celebrate the 250th anniversary of modern Singapore, they can look back with pride at what they have wrought, even as they in their turn pass on the baton to yet another generation of Singaporeans.”/ TISG