National Day Reflection

I know it is late but it is still the month of August
So it is still legal to hang up the red and white flag outside the window
Or stick flags onto your car and put red and white side view mirror covers
The flag that signifies a nation that born only less than 50 years ago
So it is still an appropriate time to reflect
What it means be a Singaporean

Despite the many incomplete posts that are still sitting in my draft, I felt the need and urgency to finish up this post.
I was too busy to put up the flag or the mirror covers
In fact, I was even contemplating going away for a short holiday
over the long National Day weekend

But I stopped myself
It just didn’t seem right
My husband and I went for a morning ride instead.
And we bumped into a group of jovial senior citizens out cyclying in the predawn hours, decked out in our national colours, with music and flags, all ready to celebrate the country’s birthday.
It was a heartening sight and a great way to start the day.

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We have spent a few years away from Singapore
And I think I have seen some things about National Days
both our own and others that stopped me from making that little getaway

For my American friends,
The Fourth of July is a day of immense national pride
Whether they were Republican or Democrat
Whether they were rich or poor
In fact, Americans must be one of the most patriotic people in the world
The American flag hangs on almost every doorway
regardless of the time of the year

And Americans are one of the most diverse in the world
There are Americans from all over the world
Some are black
Some are Chinese,
Some are Hispanic,
Some are Native American Indians
Some are first generation Europeans
But all are Americans
And they declare themselves as Americans above everything else
Bonded together by their star spangle banner
and the values of liberty, democracy, and exceptionalism
They are the loudest and biggest (including monster trucks and implants)
But make no mistake, they are Americans

Then I have friends from elsewhere who perhaps are from much humbler countries
but with far longer histories and cultures
swamped by American pop culture
And yet managing to maintain proud national traditions and language
To some, it may seem trivial
The traditional costumes and music
The food and the customs
But these are some of the things that bond them together

As I watched the National Parade via the internet, a day after it was broadcast live, I was teary eyed on many occasions.
Tears welled up in my eyes as I saw the old Mr Lee being helped to his
seat during the National Day Parade
If you worship him, you would know of his achievements and
sacrifices for our country
If you hate him, you probably disagree with the policies he has made
Perhaps you even blame him for what Singapore is today
Either way, you are agreeing that he is the founding father of modern Singapore
For whether you like it or not, great men are often hated
Even one of the greatest Presidents of American history, Abraham
Lincoln, was hated by many, even today
And he was eventually assassinated by a single shot to the head

It was our founding pioneers,
Who toiled hard, in the docks, in the office, or in government
and created a world that we grew up in
that is far from perfect, but which was safe, in fact safer than any
other city I have been in.

It is this heritage that we share
the national day songs that we grew up with
that my children are singing now
the horrendous traffic jams and the astronomical COEs
and the ultra competitve schools and the kiasu parents
And the splattering of Singlish that gives us a common identity
And our infatuation with and claim that shopping and food are our
national pastimes
It was all these that defines us as Singaporeans for good or for bad

Perhaps the propaganda has worked
On the other hand, who cares?
I am happy to be back in Singapore eating my bak chor mee
And complaining about the traffic and the weather
And feeling safe where I belong
I remember a video clip put up on FB by my Israeli friend recently
She and her family, like us had moved back to their country after a year in the States
The video showed balls of light shooting into the night sky which looked like the fireworks that lit up our sky on National Day.
But hell no, they weren’t fireworks. They were rockets shot by their neighbours and she wished they hadn’t returned home.
I wasn’t sure how to console her and felt embarrassed to tell her that while her country was waging a war, the biggest issue that preoccupied our local news was a debacle over a penguin book.

So while I sometimes lament about things moving too fast around here
It is better than not moving and becoming derelict
So, in short, I am perhaps irrational
a proud irrational Singaporean

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2 comments

  1. Zee says:

    I really enjoyed this post HF 🙂 I am also the same, really proud to be Singaporean and to call this place home, even though there are many things which make this country less than perfect.

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