Queues stretching for hours for new commemorative SG50 notes have provided further visual proof that something has changed over the years in how Singaporeans feel about their nation. It was also palpable in the long queues, even in the sun and rain, to bid farewell to founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in March.
There have been unabashed expressions of love for all things Singaporean, including a giant durian topiary and "shiok" signs at the airport, never mind how baffling these might appear to international visitors. Artistic celebrations ranged from the enthusiastic LKY Musical to the sublime 7 Letters. An exceptional National Day Parade also contributed to the bubbling up of the SG50 spirit within Singaporeans of all ages.
Older generations drew from their memories of Singapore past and the nostalgia evoked by newspapers, exhibitions and social media. The young, too, were borne by heritage with a "hip" twist and a sense of pride in how far the nation has come. The latter was symbolised by the commemorative notes - an everyday medium of exchange transformed into a collectible standing for not just a rock-solid currency, but also the enduring values embodied by founding fathers and the institutions that aptly represent Singapore.
Yet, no one should take it for granted that the SG spirit felt by many today will stand the test of time, as new generations might respond differently. While socialising the young to embrace a special feeling for the nation, society must also guard against notions of an "authentic" Singapore that excludes ideas from outside or "people not like us". Singaporeans should aim to keep their country special, without delusions of being superior.