Tan Jian Wei / Writer
I used to remember the days when I had to be at the parade square by 7.25am every day to sing the national anthem and recite the pledge.
School songs used to be sung only on Mondays and later on, on both Tuesdays and Thursdays when there were English and Mandarin versions of it. Needless to say that by the time I got to the school which had 2 versions of school songs to learn, I had stopped bothering with memorizing the lyrics. But the one constant through all those mornings that I spent in school was the pledge and national anthem.
Since finishing the first year of National Service, I have had hardly any opportunity to sing the national anthem or recite the pledge. I have come to see August 9, National Day, as a day when I can do both of the above. Some people may say that there really isn’t much meaning or purpose in singing the national anthem and I used to think along the same lines back in primary school.
It just seemed like a chore. I even pondered why we school children had to sing the same song over and over again every day. After all, even if we hadn’t learnt the words to the national anthem in Primary 1, surely we would have known by Primary 2, having sung one year’s worth of national anthem?
Seconday school was thus a turning point for me in this aspect. Singing the school song was a much more passionate affair to me given the school spirit that had been inculcated within us. It was apparent many of my school mates sang the school song with a lot more zest than the national anthem. It dawned on me that it was really all about how passionate one felt about being a Singaporean.
At that time, as I became more aware of what was going on in and outside of Singapore, I began to realize how blessed I was to have grown up and stayed here all my life. I am proud of being a Singaporean, which is why I have sung our national anthem with pride ever since my years in secondary school.
I’m not sure what my fellow Singaporeans feel about seeing the national anthem and/or reciting the pledge but when I watch soccer/rugby/baseball matches on cable TV, I can see the players and spectators singing their national anthems with pride, gusto and zest. Whether it is the Star-Spangled Banner or God Defend New Zealand, it is hard to find anyone in the stadia not singing their own national anthems. Do correct me if I’m wrong but sporting events are some of the few events at which one can sing his/her national anthem. This only serves to make me appreciate the opportunities that come my way when I am able to sing Majulah Singapura.
So come this August 9th during the National Day Parade, you can be sure that I will be singing our national anthem with a lot of pride, gusto and fervour, even if I’m not able to attend the parade itself in person. And I hope you do the same as well.