Rain brings back memories of 1968 National Day Parade

The skies opened up and the deluge came, but thousands of people lining the streets around the Padang to say one last goodbye to Mr Lee Kuan Yew stayed put.

Getting soaked to the skin despite having ponchos and umbrellas, they waited up to five hours to catch a glimpse of the state funeral procession going past.

For Mr Philip Cheng, 63, and Mr David Hong, 58, there was a sense of deja vu.

Mr Cheng had stood in the same grass field as a 16-year-old, with the rain pouring down at the National Day Parade (NDP) in 1968. He had been part of the National Cadet Corps contingent.

"We were completely soaked but... we were not bothered by the rain," said Mr Cheng, who was among the more than 1,000 participants in 81 contingents.

"To see our fellow Singaporeans continue to stand and watch us was very special too," recalled Mr Cheng, who was with his wife Florence, 63, yesterday. "It showed solidarity. Just like today, as we wait to say goodbye..."

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, too, had performed at that parade 47 years ago, as a member of the combined school brass band. His father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, had decided that the show would go on despite the rain, and had even waved off the offer of an umbrella.

Mr Hong was an 11-year-old watching the parade with his father along Connaught Drive then. Yesterday, he was there with his wife Malee.

"Why should we be afraid of rain when Mr Lee Kuan Yew has gone through more storms," said Mr Hong.

"Back then, everyone in the parade marched and stood still in the rain to show our resolve even though we were still a vulnerable country," he added.

"Today, we want to show that we have not lost that fighting spirit and are still as determined. We didn't run then, we will not run away now."