Dawn of a new era

Brand new and out to prove itself, Singapore spared nothing to make the first National Day one to be remembered, with 40 floats, a military parade, a glittering sea dragon in the harbour and $30,000 in fireworks. The subsequent parades of the 1960s were each louder, grander and more spectacular.

Hopes and fears

On Aug 9, 1966, I held on tightly to my father's hand as we witnessed what was to become the most memorable event for a 10-year-old boy.

When the parade started, I felt my father's hand tighten over mine. His body quivered, as tears rolled down his face. My father was a tough man and I couldn't believe what I saw. As we walked home after the parade, in a barely audible voice, he expressed his fears about how our fledgling country would survive.

Each parade is a testament that a small "impossible nation" can survive and prosper as long as we have good leaders and our national will is strong.

My mother, who turned 95 years old this year, constantly reminded my siblings and me that my grandfather died during the Japanese Occupation and that she sang three different national anthems (British, Japanese and Malaysian) till that fateful day on Aug 9, 1965. She told us that she would never want us to sing another anthem but Majulah Singapura.


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MR JEFFREY CHUNG, who went to the first National Day Parade in 1966. His mother died last month.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2016, with the headline 'Dawn of a new era'. Print Edition | Subscribe