It is a month prior to our nation’s Golden Jubilee.
The schools are bringing their Primary 5 pupils to the rehearsals to watch the performers practice their song and dance every Saturday from here on out in preparation for the big day. It is a big treat for the children because tickets to the National Day Parade are notoriously difficult to get. What more those this year? It would be close to impossible.
I much prefer to watch the Parade on TV in the comfort of my couch. But I digress.
I was observing how much the schools were involved in this. Other than lessons on National Education, performances and numerous activities leading up to the big day, I also came across a deck of slides containing lyrics of past National Day songs for the pupils. Yes, we have that – the tradition of coming up with a new song every year for N-Day. But I am quite glad that the powers that be decided to do away with it this year; The songs of late made citizens cringe and made my grandma’s false teeth drop while trying to rappity-rappity-rap so I guess they killed it.
So, the slide deck with the lyrics. I flipped through and read a page entitled “Recollections”. It is a 5-minute history lesson that I think may have been dramatised a little to help rally people together on such a day. The effort is borne out of good intentions but I shall reserve my opinion on its effect on the young in terms of their ability to understand and, lo and behold, appreciate the meaning behind the words. Right. I am usually cynical of passages like these. But, this one moved me. I hope it will prod something awake in the students as well.
There was a time, not long ago, when other flags flew in Singapore; The British flag in colonial rule and the Japanese flag in war.
There was no freedom, no justice, when our forefathers stepped ashore. Life was a struggle, bitter and hard, and families were hungry and poor.
They spoke a dozen different tongues, though their dreams were all the same. But their hopes for a better life were lost when war and invasion came.
After the war, we called for change, for the right to decide our fate. Some of us wanted Democracy, others, a Communist state.
Riots and killings in our streets, years of hate and fear. People said we’d never survive as independence drew near.
When self-rule came, we took a vote and joined Malaysia, merged as one. But even friends disagree sometime, and more trouble had soon begun.
August nine, nineteen sixty five, we were out of Malaysia…alone! Against all odds we had to build a nation of our own.
We’ve come this far, by ourselves, one people from many lands. Our forefathers paid the price for us; Now the future is in our hands.
This is our home, where we belong, and our flag flies high and free. But let’s not take for granted what we have will always be.