Proud to be Singaporean

I am 53 years old this year and I was heartened to watch the clip on TV about the little girl who made an effort to speak three languages as she went about her daily life.

I find warmth when I watch the YouTube video of fellow Singaporeans singing a National Day song on the MRT, and I feel pride when I see 20 or so people of different races lifting a truck to save a man.

But what I've known all along is that all this is not a surprise.

I grew up in a kampung in Tai Seng where my neighbours were of different races and religions, yet we took care of one another. We could walk in and out of anybody's house like it was our own; the elders would always look out for the young ones as if they were their own, even though we were not related; we cared and protected one another in times of crisis.

When I did national service, my mates were from different communities - Sikhs, Indians, Chinese, Malays and Eurasians. We got punished together, encouraged one another, and ate, slept and talked about girls together.

Would I fire my weapon on the enemy to protect my mates and country? The answer is a definite "yes", as these guys are the brothers I never had, and the citizens are my family that I pledged to protect.

I am married and have a daughter and son now. When they were growing up, I always reminded them to look at a person based on his merit and not because of the colour of his skin or his religion.

My daughter is going to graduate soon from a local university while my son is serving NS and will go to another local university once he completes his NS.

I have done my small part to contribute to Singapore's progress and security by serving my NS and ensuring peace and stability for my country.

I am passing the baton now to my son and also my daughter.

I will die with a smile on my face, knowing that a young girl can walk in and out of her neighbour's home and share whatever little food they have with each other. I will smile, knowing a Malay guy has a Chinese guy on his right and a Sikh or Indian guy on his left when he has to face a common enemy on his home front.

I am proud to be a Singaporean.

Hatnam Rauaee