Four combined rededication ceremonies and a parade were held yesterday to mark Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Day, as current and former servicemen across the country donned uniforms to work and posted tributes on social media.
The ceremonies were organised to commemorate and pay tribute to all SAF servicemen and women who have played a part in making Singapore a safer home.
President Halimah Yacob attended the SAF Day Parade at Safti Military Institute in Jurong West, with over 3,000 SAF operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen), full-time national servicemen and regulars.
She presented the State Colours to this year's best combat unit, the 1st Commando Battalion, while Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen handed out 29 best unit and best national service unit awards.
The Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant-General Melvyn Ong, led SAF personnel in reciting the SAF pledge to reaffirm their loyalty to the country and their commitment to the defence of Singapore.
Earlier, Dr Ng was at the University Cultural Centre at the National University of Singapore for one of the rededication ceremonies organised by the Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF).
In his SAF Day message, he said: "National servicemen from all parts of Singapore and their family members who support the SAF give strength to the nation through the SAF. Without that strength, there can be no economic security and no progress for our nation."
Dr Ng was joined by about 255 NSmen from around 110 participating companies, along with their employers.
He wrote in a Facebook post: "The SAF needs the strong support from all Singaporeans to keep it safe and secure. #ThankYou to the men and women of the SAF who protect our home and loved ones."
In a speech, SMF president Douglas Foo emphasised that business owners need to continue supporting their employees in their national service journey.
"As employers, it is our role to ensure our employees are given the support required to focus when they are on their annual in-camp training to ensure they are able to complete each cycle competently and with peace of mind, so that they may return to work and (their) family," he said.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Finance and Education Indranee Rajah was at a ceremony organised by Surbana Jurong at Gateway Theatre in Jalan Bukit Merah, attended by 350 people from 130 companies.
Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan was at Temasek Polytechnic for a ceremony organised by the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises.
In a Facebook post, he said his experience as Foreign Minister has shown him that Singapore's peace and security cannot be taken for granted.
He added that before the SAF was formed, Singapore "could only be passive victims of other countries' plans", but today it can stand upright and defend itself.
"Deepest gratitude to the pioneers of the SAF and the more than one million of us who have served national service. It has been a sacrifice, but a worthwhile and meaningful endeavour," he wrote.
Over at the Trade Association Hub in Jurong, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong attended a ceremony organised by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
He was joined by NSmen and their employers from around 110 companies.
Mr Wong stressed that while Singapore is better defended now than in the past, "to keep Singapore going and to ensure our future success, we must continue to strengthen the SAF and national service as a cornerstone of our defence".
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat noted in a Facebook post that when SAF Day was first celebrated on July 1, 1969, it was called Armed Forces Day.
While the name has since changed, "the meaning remains the same", he wrote.
"To all our men and women of the SAF, thank you for serving tirelessly, for your dedication and commitment in defending our Singapore."