Unsung heroes allow us safe, smooth merrymaking

As we celebrate the festive season, my heart goes out to the many unsung heroes working for us.

They ensure that society continues to function and the economy keeps on humming away.

As we sleep in the comfort of our beds, they keep our streets safe and secure.

They ensure that we can celebrate and continue our daily activities.

Many of them are on standby mode, in case of an emergency.

They are operationally ready to respond to a call to action.

Some are prepared to face great risks to keep the streets safe and our country secure.

Past experience has shown us that they can be injured and they may even lose their lives.

Out there on our coastal waters, they are patrolling murky nooks and corners.

They protect our maritime facilities and ensure a safe passage through our waterways.

As we celebrate and go about our daily affairs, they support the smooth running of the things around us, many of which we take for granted.

While we enjoy the festivities, they labour away.

They man the shops and keep food and beverage outlets open.

Some of them have to work around the clock for us.

They work on unpopular shifts and odd hours so that we can enjoy our lives.

They may work all alone and under challenging conditions.

Many of them would be missing their loved ones, and would rather do the things we are doing in our merrymaking.

In many homes, a child would be pining for her father to return.

"A few more hours," her mother would assure her. "Daddy has to work."

Another child could be on the phone with his mother: "Mummy, please come home to me."

These people, including foreign workers, are making things work for us.

They are some of the unsung heroes that we may never know, nor will ever meet in our lifetime.

We should be grateful and show our appreciation to them for what they have done and are doing for us.

Perhaps, we should allocate a space in the Founders' Memorial to these unsung heroes for their contribution to our nation-building process.

Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 31, 2015, with the headline 'Unsung heroes allow us safe, smooth merrymaking'. Print Edition | Subscribe