From uncertain nights to confident future

Recalling Aug 9, 1965: There was no National Day Parade, no exhortations of "Count on me, Singapore" or "This is home, truly". There were no Black Knights flying past, just black nights, as what we had were uncertainties.

I did not get to watch the broadcast of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's interview on the separation on the day itself, as we could not afford a TV at home. I did not read about it in The Straits Times then, as I could not afford to subscribe to the paper.

The joyous day was "announced" loudly by the firecrackers from the Chinese community in Chinatown, near where I lived.

It was my first year as a school teacher in Clementi Primary School. I did not know what it meant for Singapore to be an independent nation. I had a job; being paid $190 was OK, as I was able to contribute to the household expenses.

I remember when the teachers gathered in the common room back then to chat about what it meant for us as a nation. We did not know what it meant.

Fast forward 50 years, and on Sunday, I waited for 9am to hear the siren and listen to the proclamation of independence by Mr Lee. It, indeed, touched my heart.

The National Anthem was played after that. My wife and I stood up and got our grandchildren, aged six and four, to stand up and sing. After the first stanza, I stopped singing, as tears were about to flow.

As I look outside my room and see the National Flag fluttering on top of my garage, I am happy, truly happy, that this is home, and am proud to see this day. Singapore, you can count on me.

Rodney Tan Wee Hong