SINGAPORE - The show must go on - that is the common sentiment held by participants of the ceremonial parade taking place on National Day on Monday (Aug 9).
Deputy Superintendent of Police Gregory Kang, who will lead the guard of honour contingent from the Singapore Police Force at the scaled-down parade at the Marina Bay floating platform, said yesterday that Aug 9 will be commemorated in a meaningful way to recognise the contributions of past Singaporeans and hope for the future.
"When we first started in 1965, a lot of things were quite uncertain, and every year, when the nation comes together to commemorate National Day in whatever spirit, method and form - it is about the key message of coming together and looking forward to the future," said DSP Kang, 29.
"In many years' time, when we look back on National Day 2021, what we will see is a nation that has gone through this Covid-19 pandemic, come out of it, become stronger, and yet managed to stay resilient, stay united and stay tough throughout."
First Warrant Officer (1WO) Nadya Mohamed Zah, 35, will also be marching on Monday, in the Singapore Civil Defence Force contingent. She told ST: "I have fancied the parade and ceremony segment since I was around nine years old. I lived near the National Stadium and I could see the live fireworks and flypast at the same time as it was on television."
A crowd favourite, the aerial display by the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) helicopters and fighter jets will also take place on Monday morning.
Major Muhammad Iskandar Dzulfadhli Abdul Rahman, 33, who will be flying an F-15SG fighter jet, said this was his way of paying tribute to "everyday heroes" of Singapore. "We will be flying in a Delta formation, a close formation that symbolises kinship."
The flypast will begin at the floating platform after the parade, and end at Paya Lebar Air Base.
Maj Iskandar, who joined the RSAF in 2008, said they were not daunted by the challenges of Covid-19 when rehearsals began in July. He recalled flying over the Singapore skyline while the sun was setting during one of them, an inspiring sight. "To me, the Singapore spirit is a dare-to-try attitude, and I draw strength from that."
Military Expert 1 (ME1) Nos Lim, 21, a flight engineer with the RSAF, was tasked with preparing the state flag for the flypast.
"Before participating in NDP, the size of the flag didn't seem that huge to me. But it's actually 1 1/2 times the size of a basketball court," she said.
She is one of around 10 people who are responsible for rolling the 140kg flag and ensuring it unfurls smoothly when lifted by a Chinook helicopter.
"Last time, there were 25 people rolling each flag, and the fast teams could take 20 minutes to complete it. But because of safe management measures, we had to cut down the number of people," she said, adding that her scaled-down team took two hours to complete the routine in one of their practices.
This year, Singapore Airlines will be participating in the marching contingent for the first time, and will be among the 200 virtual participants.
Chief steward Ong Koon Poh Kane, 40, said he hopes to show Singaporeans that "we will definitely emerge stronger, even through the tough times".
"We are still bringing this message across all over Singapore, that regardless of situation or adversity, the show must go on," he said. "Our nation's birthday must still be celebrated."