NDP2020 Anthem Moment: Saluting Our Nation And Unsung Heroes
STORY: Sim Ding En
04 August 2020
In a national broadcast on 7 Jun 2020, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called the COVID-19 pandemic "the crisis of a generation". He addressed plans to get Singapore out of this crisis but also acknowledged the exceptional spirit of unity and fortitude borne by the people.
"Many Singaporeans have stepped up during this crisis. They have become more, not less, than themselves. Healthcare workers, public officers, grassroots leaders and volunteers, and many more working quietly behind the scenes," he said.
"These acts of solidarity and human kindness exemplify the best in us. They show how we can emerge stronger from this crisis, with a sharper consciousness of being Singaporean."
Come 9 Aug 2020, the Public Warning System will sound a 20-second "All-Clear" siren to indicate the start of the special Anthem Moment. As the National Anthem is played from the Padang, seven other flag-raising ceremonies will take place concurrently across the island. This event will be broadcast live on TV, radio and the NDPeeps YouTube channel.
Here, we speak to three Singaporeans who are part of what will undoubtedly be one of NDP2020's most memorable occasions.
3SG Lim Yu Jie
Not many of us have had the opportunity to run a flag up a pole - and even those of us who were arrowed to perform that duty at school assemblies just hantam, and tried our best to match the pace to the National Anthem.
So it is exceptional that 3SG Lim Yu Jie, a military policeman by vocation, is a Presidential Guards Section Commander who raises the Presidential Standard (that's the fancy name for the flag that is used as a symbol for the head of state or president) at the Istana.
This month, the 20-year-old has been given the honour of raising the State Flag at the Padang during the Anthem Moment, a responsibility he considers "a challenging task that requires precise movements and no room for error".
"After having undergone several months of training as well as with guidance from my superiors, I think I’ll be able to overcome my nervousness and stand confidently in front of the entire nation with pride and honour on 9 Aug," said 3SG Lim.
"Singaporeans coming together to participate in the Anthem Moment is a very special thing - it symbolises Singaporeans uniting as one to rise above the COVID-19 challenge and to emerge as a stronger Singapore."
The fear was real.
Called to step forward to assist in the management of a Government Quarantine Facility, this mother of 9-year-old twins (a son with autism, and a daughter) was riddled with anxiety.
"I remember thinking: "Are we going to get infected? Are we going to get COVID-19? I have a son with autism. I cannot bring the virus home.'" Maslindah, a hospitality manager with INSEAD Residences, recalls.
But answer the call she did and is grateful for the support given by her bosses and colleagues. While she piloted online exercises for Persons Under Quarantine, the most important aspect of her role was to "make sure that everyone is safe and ensure that everyone is going to be ok at the end of the project".
"I'm looking forward to the Anthem Moment and singing the National Anthem with pride. I feel very honoured to be invited," says Maslindah.
"It’s like a dream come true cuz I’ve always only watched the NDP on TV!"
A mixture of uncertainty, fatigue, emotional strain and long hours set against the backdrop of a pandemic can derail and defeat even the most strong-willed among us.
But Grace Koh, a senior manager of skyrise greenery at the National Parks Board, saw her role as a frontline volunteer (to manage those given stay-home notices upon their return to Singapore) as an opportunity to contribute, help and combat the virus situation in any way she could.
"After deliberating, I decided that I would just take it up because it was a call of duty," says Grace, who started volunteering in March 2020.
Sketchy flight information, balancing volunteering with her regular work, and being on-call across weekends aside, it was the emotional aspect of being a frontliner that the 32-year-old equally - if not more - challenging.
She recalls a girl who had returned to Singapore unaccompanied, who was not able to see her mother because both of them had missed the window of opportunity to catch each other before the girl was whisked away on a bus for a 14-day SHN.
Grace felt helpless, but offered a listening ear to the dstressed mother.
Nevertheless, she is thankful for this experience. "It’s really very heartwarming, because so many people - from the public sector and across different industries - are working together really hard to combat the COVID-19 situation in the best way that they can," says Grace, who is looking forward to participating in the Anthem Moment at Kampung Admiralty.
"I feel very honoured," she says. "My mother always says that the National Anthem is her favourite song, so she’s very proud!"
How to participate in the Anthem Moment
When you hear the Public Warning System sounding a 20-second "All-Clear" siren at about 10.30am on the morning of 9 Aug 2020, tune in to the NDP coverage on TV, radio or the NDPeeps YouTube Channel.
It means the Anthem Moment is starting!
Gather your loved ones to participate and record this occasion. You can also upload your video to go.gov.sg/anthemmoment2020. Or post it on Facebook and Instagram with the hashtags: #OurHeartforSG #NDP2020 #TogetherStrongerSG