National Day Parade 2014 – whee!

I am a Great Fan of Singapore’s national day parades.

Few events rival this, as an event for families to bond. To inculcate pride in our country, to celebrate all the crazy things it means to be a Singaporean, to have the best vantage point to appreciate the fireworks raining down on this special day.

I couldn’t wait to bring the girls to NDP 2014, to have this shared experience as a family. I thought it was particularly apt that this year marks the 20th anniversary of the International Year of the Family (IYF), as proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly to celebrate the importance of the family.

The core values of IYF 2014 this time are love and respect, commitment and big-heartedness. Well-chosen values, since they certainly bolster the foundation for a strong, closely-knit families. And thanks to the good folks behind the promotion of IYF 2014, we got the chance to celebrate NDP 2014 “live” this year!

I even excitedly created rainbow loom bands with glow-in-the-dark bands for the big day.

As friends posted photos and blog posts of their experience at the NDP previews, I was certainly getting all psyched up for the big day itself!

But first, we had to survive the security queues.

Welcome to Singapore, where we love to queue (not). Heard that entry was much more of a breeze during previews, but I guess with ministers and the like being present, the whole hog of checks had to be done.



Then we collected our fun packs! Which are the main reason why Singaporeans go for NDP (no lah, haha).



By the time we got to our seats, the pre-parade segment was all but over. The sea of red and white were all pumped up to CELEBRATE, starting by welcoming the Red Lions!

Soaking up the atmosphere.
Red Lions soaring high above MBS.

Parachuting over our CBD skyline.

Fighter jets, and their accompanying sonic boom!

A lil too overwhelming for three year old B, but at five and a half years, K is finally ok with it!

Deja vu, as I recalled bringing K two years ago to the parade, and how her three year old self, was intimidated by the roar of the jets too. How she has grown since.

I thought the helix bridge was really pretty.

We had a crazy fun time belting out every song – what’s a party for if you’re not there to PARTEEEEEE?! Belated apologies to the folks in the row in front of us.



How retro is this song?
“Put your ART, your WORK, your WILL, to the DEFENCE… of SINGAPORE”
*sing TOGETHER now!* “Put your HEART, your MIND, your SKILL, to our DEFENCE….”

 Those in my generation were especially glad that they brought back the old favourites. The lyrics sound dated, but absolute winners in the field of patriotism!



Our leaders, parade representatives of our military and security forces, and our next generation of citizens.

 
Rousing cheers for the man who dedicated his life to building this nation. Though he looked every bit of the ninety years he was, he broke out into a very cheery smile when Teo Ser Luck did the we-fie thing. Wonder what really went through our Great Leader’s head as he grinned.

The marching segments are a bit ho-hum, but with age, I have come to realise the importance of every segment of the parade. The show of military might and our latest Mindef toys might seem a bit junta-ish, but recent events in Ukraine, and the horrific wars in Iraq and Gaza, emphasise just how delicate and fragile our peace is. The welcoming of our President and parliamentarians might seem unnecessarily ceremonial, but it reminds us, that these are the vestiges of democracy that our nation is founded upon.

As sun set, the lights came up…
We celebrate, because thousands of Singaporeans have made this parade happen.

Our People make this Our Home.

Almost all the people I spoke to said this year’s NDP was one of the best in years. Apart from focusing on everyday Singaporeans who have overcome odds in their lives, I thought it was especially meaningful because it celebrated the values that matter, the spirit of acceptance towards ex-offenders, the spirit that everyone can be what he or she wants to be, if one puts one mind to it, the spirit that we are not just about cold hard economic progress, but also about caring for one another, even as we try to keep up with the relentless pace of this world, so as not to fall back, and to sustain a Singapore that can feed its people.

We might not be there yet, but just by recognising that this is the kind of Singapore that we want to build, speaks volumes.

Full moon, and the helix bridge, now prettily lit up.

Great PR by Keppel – dressed its building up with the flashing message of “Happy Birthday Singapore”.

Then it was the segment that folks pay $1800 (albeit for 2 nights) to Ritz Carlton for. The fireworks!

Fireworks!

As they thundered like explosives (which is what they are, I suppose), B started crying. It was all too loud and overwhelming for her. Well, a mother’s gotta do what a mother’s gotta do. So I scooped her up in my arms, and continued standing and whooping with cheers as the sky lit up with a thousand sparkly flowers. Thus I managed to enjoy myself as best as one could, with a babe weeping into one’s ears.

And more fireworks!

Golden polka dot shower.

It sounds hackneyed to say that Singaporeans ought to be more grateful, but that is indeed my key reflection as our nation turns 49. Sure, we have our failings as a country – we could do with a less stressful (and dare I say, sometimes pointless) education system, we could do with less deforestation to build yet another crass condominium, we could take care of our elderly poor more as the Gini coefficient increases year after year…

But, looking around the region, on balance we really have it good as a society. At least we function by the rule of law, and we need not grease palms to get simple procedures completed. We pay taxes and fees in a transparent manner, and do not prosper the corrupt at every turn. We have citizens who are becoming less apathetic, and who are aware of how fortunate we are, as compared to the needy all around the world. There are many kind-hearted Singaporeans who constantly seek to share our material blessings with those in need. We have a system that works, and a country that is indisputably one of the safest places to bring up children.

国庆,是一国之庆。心中溢出的不仅是骄傲,更是感激。
感恩,因为家,给我一双坚定翅膀。
之所以,我的梦,无论在何方,一身的爱,唯有家。
归根之地,必是家。

生日快乐,我的祖国新加坡。

Celebrating being Singaporean this August!

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