Sunday, July 30, 2006

Sharing Nugget #8

#8: Taking the Singapore Pledge and singing the National Anthem at age 24 is deeply different from doing it at age 19.

How the NDP preview touched my heart.

It has been a long time since I have been so deeply moved.

It first struck me when my wife and I walked from Kallang MRT to the National Stadium. I saw a huge contingent of kids practicing a routine in People’s Association field. It hit me that these are kids, and I could feel their genuine excitement. It was so innocent. So pure.

I waddled through a sea of emotions during the queuing, the pre-parade show, and the parade itself. It feels really different sitting up in the stands and absorbing it all, as opposed to being in the organizing committee in 2004. I let myself get carried along the tide of spectacle and rousing music.

I started losing myself in the flood when they played a tribute to the Kallang Stadium on the big screen. There’s so much history. It goes back so far. It kind of unlocked my tear glands. Then there’s no turning back.

When the show segment came on, hundreds of volunteers rushed onto the field with tremendous gusto and passion. The pride were shown in their body language and captured on their faces when shown over the screen. I am so proud of them.

The show was so masterfully choreographed. It took me to a climatic emotional high during the final performances where there was an inapprehensible amount of people moving and singing in unison on the field. The fire-works were the best I have ever seen. Then came the part where we sang a medley of pass National Day songs - which did me further in by bring back flashes of memories where I had sang these songs throughout my life.

By now, I was fighting to keep my tears in my eyes and off my cheeks. It was a hard fight. Then came the pledge taking. I have never felt more Singaporean. 60,000 people taking the pledge together… how to beat that?

The Apaches roared overhead… then more breath-taking fire-works. Then the National Anthem. I looked at the flag, at the horizon outlined by skyscrapers, at fellow Singaporeans. I sang with deep passion. So this is how it feels like to be part of a community, a people, a nation. I yearn to belong. I yearn to play my part in keeping Singapore “one people and one nation”. I yearn to serve this home where I want to belong, defend and help grow.

Of course, voices came into my head that such emotions may be over-played because of the emotional spectacle. But I gave it lots of thoughts during the long journey home. And I still hold the conviction.

I ask myself, why now? Why only in this parade did it cement my conviction to dedicate my life to serving the people of Singapore? Why is it now that I truly understand that no matter what role I play – be it an SAF Officer, a civil servant, an architect, a teacher, a politician, or a community service mover – I will be motivated intrinsically?


Because the time has come.

I realized that the intense journey of reflection and learning this summer as a senior facilitator allowed me to work out what I want to do in my life. This NDP may have unlocked the door that I have searched for. It has answered my questions of what is service, who am I serving, what for, and how.

The NDP spectacle showed what a people, united in one voice, one vision, one conviction, is able to achieve. It showed me the strength in unity, in passion, and in commitment. Seeing and imaging the thousands of people who put the parade and show together filled me with great belief in what we can all achieve together.

I remember my vision as a student in SMU.

I want to show everyone what strength in unity can achieve. I experienced it in Social Science Society, Student Council of Discipline and in SIFE. I showed it in the Circle Experience Camp. And I want to help make it happen in SMU Student Life. That’s why I have geared the SCD towards supporting student collaborative events which can showcase what a united student body can achieve.

Like the NDP show, where the different Armed Services and civilian groups worked as one to show us what it means to be Singaporean, I believe that the different student bodies in SMU can put aside our differences, see the big picture and common goal, and build a proud tradition of strong Student Identity and Learning Culture.

This is my vision and mission for my remaining 2 years in SMU.

The time has come for me to plant conscious and firm footsteps onto the road of dedicated service. I will educate myself as much as possible for the next 2 years, and continue my exploration into what kind of service I am most suited for – something which I have done throughout the summer by doing facilitation for peers and kids, and grassroots community work.

But why do I think my time has come?

I believe that it is because I felt a different kind of pride and conviction when I took the Singapore Pledge and sang the National Anthem tonight. It's different from when I was a teenager, when I was a new soldier who is bearing arms for the nation, when I was commissioned, when I saluted the flag as an officer in the 2004 NDP, or during the last NPD preview in 2005. It is deeper. Because now, I think, I am ready to walk the journey.

I would like to thank everyone who made the NDP preview possible. I would like to thank Hyen Ying, for giving me the tickets - which she went out her way to deliver to me on her birthday. It turns out to be such a gift. I would like to thank my wife. I uncharacteristically left the SS camp early because I wanted so much to make her happy by bringing her to see the preview. Look who’s bringing who in the end? Finally, goodbye Kallang Stadium, for the memories. And what a fitting farewell.


Post a Comment

<< Home