Due to a request to post up my mypaper NDP 09 essay, here it is:

My Most Memorable National Day

At the age of ten, I had no concept of what National Day was about, much less why it called for such a major celebration every year. I just loved belting out Stand Up for Singapore with my entire class, red-shirted and with our arms around each other. But that year, it turned out, I was about to learn what a national identity was, and why everyone wanted to claim it.

I was still a wide-eyed child then, a bumbling primary school kid just eager to go on a field-trip with my friends. An entire day without school? Plus, excursion buses and clappers from the goodie bag? Sign me on.

So, blithely, my friends and I trawled through our goodie bags, had fun with the clappers and finished the food we brought within the first couple of hours we were there. There was the video montage of Singapore’s history, the arrival of the President’s motorcade that had all of us craning our necks for a better look, the impressively flawless military parade and flypast, and aesthetic performances that leapt to life with vibrancy and vivacity, a glorious display of colours and movement.

I was enraptured. But little did I know that the climax lay in the finale. By then, the skylight had dimmed. Twilight soon settled in. There was magic in the air that night. Everyone was on their feet as they sang a medley of national songs, boldly waving their miniature flags. Meanwhile, the first fireworks shot into the sky and burst into a starry shower of colours. Our voices were loud and our love strong.

My little heart was bursting with pride. I was honoured to have been there, to be Singaporean. Because it isn’t just about clappers or wearing a red shirt. It is about belonging.

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