The state flag fly-past represents one of the climactic moments of the National Day Parade. The sight of a Chinook helicopter bearing the flag, against the background of the evening sky, has an uplifting effect on those who are watching. It is a spectacular display of aerial might and precision literally upholding the sanctity of the flag, which represents nothing less than the entire nation. As heads crane upwards to catch the sight, Singaporeans come together and see their hopes and aspirations writ large on the horizon. The thrill never pales, from one Aug 9 to the next.
There will be a different kind of spectacle this year. In May, organisers disclosed that the state flag fly-past will go to the heartland. Residents will no doubt be waiting with interest for details of where the route will take it. For many, it will be the first time that they will be able to watch the fly-past from their homes during this year's parade. Of course, the infectious sense of camaraderie that prevails among parade spectators will be absent in this Covidean year, but such a fly-past will still bring the flag into common view.
The initiative on the state flag fly-past is akin to the decision to give Singapore residents National Day Parade 2020 packs, available at community centres or clubs and residents' committee centres, as part of this year's concept of bringing the parade into homes amid the coronavirus pandemic. In both cases, the point being made is that the outbreak can interrupt the accustomed pace of national life but it cannot alter it completely.
That is true too of the move to hold the National Day Istana Open House online this year, with visitors getting a tour of rarely seen features. This added attraction attests to the innovative instincts that have come to the fore in this year's celebrations. They preserve the continuity of national sentiment that surrounds the most important day in the national calendar.