Dear Singapore: Our 56th Letter to an Old Friend

Dear Singapore,

Happy 56th birthday!

Wow, you’ve already turned 56! But this year, your celebration feels so strange – a delayed parade and fireworks, and no singing to the National Day songs. It all feels incomplete. The pandemic has ruined our celebrations. Nonetheless, it’s a day we celebrate your independence and your accomplishments.

We’ve had so many highs and lows, and it only feels right to take this trip down memory lane and reminisce, don’t you think?

Pre-COVID scenes of days gone by in our little corners of Singapore
Pre-COVID scenes of days gone by in our little corners of Singapore

I remember going on the Primary 5 learning journey to the National Day Parade rehearsal. All of us would sit with our closest friends and jam out to the National Day songs, while marvelling at the marches and the display of Singapore’s tanks and whatnot.

And of course, not even forgetting our National Day goodie bags! The fun packs were secretly the highlight of the parade as we rummaged through the goodies, getting excited over our haul. Being 11 was fun – a time of innocence and purity.

Traditional Singaporean Snacks
How many of these snacks were you lucky enough to get in your goodie bags?

Let’s not forget the fireworks! Every year, together with my friends and family, I would have a picnic along the Kallang River as all of us wait to witness the fireworks in their grandeur. I would see so many other Singaporeans doing the same, and every year, we end up making new friends! That kampong spirit is just in our blood, huh?

Singing the National Day songs is a habit that’s been instilled in us all since we were young, and the nostalgic songs that hit close to home and automatically invoke a response from us are the classics like Home, We are Singapore, Reach out for the Skies, Count on Me Singapore, and so many more! Nothing can beat these classics! So when you hear them playing anywhere, that’s your cue to commence your own National Day concert with your friends! Good times.

National Day Fireworks at Marina Bay
Be honest; even if you’re spending the day out with friends, you’d still tune in for the fireworks!

It’s a shame how all these memories of being in a group with your friends feel so distant. It feels so impossible now. But as we think about our togetherness and how we, Singaporeans, love being with one another, it is also important to acknowledge our fighting spirit during these callous times.

As a nation, we have been faced with so many crises. But today, we’re dealing with a crisis like no other – the COVID-19 virus that plagued us in early 2020. But even in that aspect, we’ve been reacting fast, abiding by the rules and being vigilant.

Empty Set of Swings at Hougang
Though the swings may be empty, our fighting and kampong spirit lives on

Remember how Singapore was the country with the second-highest number of cases at one point in time? But here we are today, with nearly 70% of our population fully vaccinated and becoming the nation with one of the highest percentages of a vaccinated population. Well, that’s us – always aspiring to be the best!

These past couple of months have been especially tough. It feels like the pandemic has been getting to us. Our harmony is no longer as harmonious, our kindness is no longer as humbling, and our graciousness is no longer as generous. We’re sorry to let you down, Singapore. But, we will get better, and we will re-emerge stronger and kinder than before.

Highway Overlook in Singapore
There is some beauty in the mundane, and it’s that, that we hope to cherish

Our Team Singapore camaraderie has always shone through and will continue to as well. I mean, isn’t that what brought us from a little fishing village to a first-world, fully-developed and one of the richest and safest countries in the world? 

It has been a harrowing time for us all, but this National Day, we promise you that we will come together to make this difficult time feel easier to get through, for we are One Singapore.

Thank you for being our home and our pride, and we hope to continue to glorify your name and truly ‘show the world what Singapore can be’.

We love you, and once again, happy birthday, Singapore.

Us, Singaporeans.

Photos by Brandon Neo (Cover Photo and Fireworks), Goh Jing Wen (Old Snacks), and Soloman Soh (Neighbour Photos) of the DANAMIC Team.

Baani Kaur

Aspiring to achieve great heights like every human in the world, but till then, enjoy the most dramatic and sarcastic person you will ever read from.

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