I’m thankful for:
- If we were ever at war, it was under the Union Jack, not the Crescent and Stars. Singapore has never been to war. While, yes, we have a small standing military setup and a large citizen-army comprising reservists. And the fact that we have a large reservist citizen-led ready-at-a-moment’s notice force is perhaps the single biggest achievement of the pioneering cabinet who initiated National Service in 1967. All things considered, the spin-off of NS has been the breaking down of both imaginary and real societal barriers with the exposure to ideas that can challenge one’s world view. The immigrant society that this nation was built from (and being redefined as it were) needs that anchoring and sense of belonging. I know that my 2.5 years in Police NS as an Inspector of Police gave me an opportunity to grow up and understand life’s warts and all. Though it would be naive to suggest that we’ve gained a united society, we are well down that path. Some characterize NS as a waste of time or that it is a means to indoctrinate the people. While there is an element of truth to that, as with any uniformed organization, I think there are many knock-on effects that is hard to put a dollar value to. Suffice to say, I would be really proud when the time comes, to see my two sons do their service to their country of birth.
- Great weather (but we could always use with less humidity) which means you have an all year round opportunity to explore that great outdoors, not only in Singapore but in the neighbouring countries.
- Good water. Yes, this is the tropics and yes, with the earlier reference to humidity, we should really be deriving potable water from the air around us. That will certainly see us being very self-sufficient in that essential life-sustaining compound.
- Great people. People are what a country makes. I believe that adversities and challenges are the fire that forge the psyche of a nation. It is good to have a governmental system that supports the people, especially those who are “falling behind”, but ultimately, what makes a nation is still the people. This statement is true for any nation and all of humanity. As Carl Sagan might have said as he gazed on the picture of our planet from a far, there are no borders that delineate nations. It is just one planet. Yes, we are an island and our borders are not land-based but sea-based, so that observation still applies.
- Great Family. I am thankful for the wonderful family I was born into and the extended family that I’ve been able to create with my wife. My family has spread its wings and are now pretty much all over this planet. But Singapore is still home. Warts and all. It’s what makes for memories and a place under the sun.
I just finished watching this year’s National Day Parade. Did not get to go watch it in person, but that’s fine. Growing up, I was fortunate to have had been in the 1973 (RI Red Cross, Sec 2, Padang), 1974 (RI Red Cross, Sec 3, Padang), 1978 (Guard Of Honour, Police OCS, Padang) and 1979 (Police Academy, Queenstown Stadium) parades. It was very different then. There weren’t the goodie bags you see today, nor where there the musical extravaganza of today. Our contingents had a three to five kilometer route march after the march past and those were challenging to say the least. But we did it. I don’t have pictures of those days for all I have are memories. I am sure we can get MediaCorp/SPH to open up their archives under a Creative Commons license and let people do wonders with it, Its part of who we are.