My heart dropped twice this month. The first time was when PM Lee took ill on national television during the National Day Rally. I remember telling my friend, “What is he looking at…? Oh ****!” Thankfully, our prayers were answered and he emerged unscathed. The second time was when our previous President S R Nathan passed away. He was a great man who did great things quietly. So when the bugle sounded for the Last Post, I felt a deep sense of loss and some comfort that he went the way he did. Quietly and with great dignity.
But this month had many moments of celebration as well. Like a groupie, I followed every tiny detail reported about PM Lee’s state visit to the White House in August. I checked out Blair House where the delegation was staying, joined in the National Day celebration at Mission, saw the pictures of PM at the Arlington National Cemetery, sang along to our national anthem, followed Mrs Lee to the Washington museum, cringed when Obama fumbled, scrutinised the guest list and laughed at PM’s joke. That’s my Prime Minister, right there, who coded a Sudoku-solving program that Michelle Obama wants. That’s my country, my people, being honoured by Barack Obama, the President of the United States. How awesome is that?! I was positively exploding with pride, enough to fill many many Dinosaur pouches.
It was fun to meet the crowd at the Arrival Ceremony this morning. Lots of happy faces! :) (Photo by me) - LHL
A photo posted by The White House (@whitehouse) on Aug 2, 2016 at 5:21pm PDT
That’s how I felt, well except for the baby.
One of my favourite moments was when Mrs Lee and Michelle Obama visited the National Gallery of Art and the staff stepped in to reposition them for the camera. Despite being such public figures at an event under intense scrutiny, these are regular people, who know you can’t have a real conversation one metre apart.
This year’s National Day Parade was equally inspiring. My favourite were the aerial performers, who flew across the stadium with such grace and beauty. I’ve tried aerial silk and aerial hoop and it was scary. You never really know how much you love solid ground until you’re hanging five metres in the air.
The highlight for me had to the be floating ‘Sky City’. Hung from the ceiling, these giant props are unremarkable by themselves but with all the projection lighting effects, the effect was both stunning and surreal.
Elsewhere, Singaporeans were also celebrating our 51st National Day in Mission, ballrooms, school halls, Singaporean restaurants and homes. And where there are Singaporeans, there’s always food. Check out the creative SG51 cakes baked up by our Singaporeans around the world!
Even as we were celebrating National Day, our sports heroes were giving their best at the Rio Olympics. Of the 25 athletes in our contingent, 16 of them were making their debut at the Olympics. Our paddlers, shuttlers, sailors, rower and shooter went up against some of the world’s best. Sprinter Timothy Yap was positively beaming to share the same track with his idol Usain Bolt. Never mind that he lost, it was a dream come true for him.
Our Singaporean dream came true when our golden boy Joseph Schooling beat his idol Michael Phelps in an epic 100m butterfly swim, to win the first ever Olympic Gold medal for Singapore. The first time I read the news about his win, I choked up with pride just reading it aloud to my Mother. The second time, I told a 7-eleven store assistant about it and we ended up chatting for a good 10 minutes, celebrating in his win. The third time, I laughed at how 5039 was sold out for the 4D lottery. I love my fellow countrymen J
This month of pride is continuing onto September for us at OSU as we draw close to our signature reunion event Singapore Day 2016. Taking place at Pier 70 in San Francisco, this year’s Singapore Day will be the first one on the US West Coast, the first with an indoor component and a refreshed line-up for our Singapore Story exhibits. If you have friends in the Bay area who haven’t registered, spread the word! And if you’re going to be there, come say hi! I look quite like my profile picture, sans eye-bags.