Patriotism from afar

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My home country — aka the little red dot — turns 47 today.

“There was a time when people said that SIngapore won’t make it, but we did.” — from a National Day song

As a kid, I was always excited when National Day came around, especially when my dad managed to get tickets to the parade. I can still remember my goody bag and the fireworks. And I also remember the National Day quiz that the Straits Times once ran. If you sent in the correct answers, they mailed you a lion collar pin. I ended up with four, which I proudly wore on my primary school uniform collar. One at a time.

Then I grew up, and it became cool to diss your own country (not that it didn’t deserve some of it). The National Day break became a good time to get away from the country. National Day Parade… who cares? Most of the time I can’t even remember it’s National Day.

But in the last few years in Thailand, I’ve somehow started “observing” National Day again, almost religiously. Be it rushing home to watch the National Day Parade (and still griping about it with friends) or making a small effort to commemorate the day by cooking something Singaporean. It’s something that I don’t think I’ll do if I were still in Singapore.

Being away from home somehow makes one more patriotic — and it’s a feeling shared by many friends who live overseas. National Day reminds us of our home and how quirky it is. We are the country best known for banning chewing gum and caning naughty Caucasians. We speak a strange form of English that no native speaker of the language will be able to fathom.

And not only do we have our national anthem, but we also have the pledge (which can be sung) and patriotic songs such as “Count on Me Singapore”, “Stand up for Singapore” and “One People, One Nation, One Singapore”. I crooned some of them to my colleagues earlier and they thought it was the drollest thing ever.

So today, I’m going to rush home from work, so that I can watch the live telecast of the National Day Parade and cook my laksa. Dear Lord, please help me find the tau pok and 粗米粉.

Happy birthday, Singapore!

Note: I’d pilfered the above photo from a friend’s FB page. Please don’t do what I did and reuse it without permission. 🙂

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