The National Day Parade (NDP) is more than "just a marvellous show", said President Tony Tan Keng Yam at the end of the nation's 52nd birthday bash.
"It is an expression of the Singapore spirit, and the way we must continue to strive for progress, because the work never ends," said Dr Tan, adding that the nation faces many challenges, such as terrorism and economic issues.
"But if we work together... we can overcome all of these challenges," he stressed, addressing the media after the parade. "Each milestone is just a step on our forward progress."
This year marks the last that Dr Tan, 77, attended the parade as its reviewing officer, with the job going to the new president after the next presidential election to be held next month.
It will be the nation's first reserved election - for Malay candidates - following changes to the elected presidency scheme.
As Singapore's seventh president, Dr Tan presided over his first parade in 2012, having assumed office in September 2011.
After the parade at The Float @ Marina Bay yesterday which was attended by about 25,000 people, Dr Tan said he spent "a little more time than usual thanking all the participants". He told reporters later that he was "extremely touched" by the people's good wishes and their affection.
MORE THAN JUST A SHOW
Working as one nation together, we have shown how we can build a harmonious, cohesive society, everybody pitching in and looking out for each other... This reflects the spirit which is shown in the parade.
DR TONY TAN, who said the NDP "is an occasion for Singaporeans to come together to celebrate our achievements, our independence, our progress".
He said that every parade he has attended as president has been special and he is grateful for the chance to serve the nation. He added that the NDP "is an occasion for Singaporeans to come together to celebrate our achievements, our independence, our progress".
"Working as one nation together, we have shown how we can build a harmonious, cohesive society, everybody pitching in and looking out for each other... This reflects the spirit which is shown in the parade," he added.
The parade this year was also important as it commemorates 50 years of national service, said Dr Tan.
"NSmen have contributed tremendously to Singapore. Without their commitment, their sacrifices, and the support of their families, we will not be able to defend ourselves and Singapore will not be where we are today," he said.
"I think it's appropriate that we take this occasion to thank all our NSmen... and their commitment to Singapore."
Dr Tan also commended the NDP performers - of whom the oldest is 81 and the youngest is four. "It shows the Singapore spirit, that we can come together... (and) express togetherness as Singaporeans - that we share each others' destinies."
Spectators at the parade told The Straits Times they were thankful for Dr Tan's service as head of state.
Retiree Soh Cheow Hwee, 62, said Dr Tan has done "a great job for the nation".
Temasek Laboratories deputy director Yeo Siew Yam, 53, said: "I'm thankful for his time as President, and I also want to say thanks to Mrs Mary Tan for all the support she's given to her husband.
"It is sad that this is his last time as President at the parade, but I hope to see him contributing to Singapore in other ways in the future.
"I wish Dr Tony Tan all the best after his presidency."
Ms Lynn Yeow-De Vito, 37, director of a public relations agency, also said: "He has done his best for our nation, like the other presidents before him, and I think it's always good to have fresh leadership after he has completed his term."