This year's National Day Parade (NDP) was a "grand and dignified" one that brought together people from all walks of life in a show of Singapore's inclusivity, said President Halimah Yacob yesterday.
"It shows we are moving together as a society, everyone is included, no matter what we do," she told more than 250 people at a reception in the Istana to thank NDP participants and organisers.
Highlighting the Combined Drum Band, which included students with special needs from APSN Tanglin School, Madam Halimah said she was impressed by the dedication of the participants when she attended one of the rehearsals.
One of the band members, 14-year-old Darwisy Bazli Rahman, said the drummers had been practising at least weekly since April.
"I was nervous but felt very excited to participate in the parade," said the Secondary 3 student from APSN Tanglin, a special education school for those with mild intellectual disability.
His schoolmate, Sec 2 student Cordelia Teo Yun Yu, 13, said her parents were proud to see her perform last Friday. "I felt the hard work paid off," she told The Straits Times.
They were among 24 members of the band, which also consisted of participants from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Band and the Singapore National Cadet Corps Command Band.
In her speech, Madam Halimah also highlighted the mobile column, which she said was the most memorable part of the NDP for her.
She recalled people cheering the marching contingent in the 1960s near her home, then at Selegie House. "It was raining, and all of us came out to support the contingent… It was a demonstration of what we can do as Singaporeans," she said.
This year, the mobile column of vehicles from the SAF and Home Team went to five heartland locations on Saturday: Bishan, Wisma Geylang Serai, Jurong East, Punggol and Woodlands. The last time it paraded through the heartland was in 2010.
Madam Halimah said: "We must continue to stay strong and united as one people, and strengthen our bonds and celebrate our diversity."