KUALA LUMPUR - The spirit of patriotism was thick in the air as Malaysians from all walks of life thronged Dataran Merdeka to witness the 56th Merdeka Day celebrations.
Housewife Hashimah Hashim, 51, said she never missed the opportunity to celebrate the day with her family.
"Every year, I come to Dataran Merdeka with my children to teach them the true meaning of independence so that they will appreciate the sacrifices of the nation's past leaders," said Hashimah, who was overcome with emotion when she witnessed the war chant by VAT 69 commandos.
Premalatha Muthiah, 38, a private sector employee, who was with her family, said witnessing the celebration live for the first time was a memorable experience.
"The celebration showed the spirit of patriotism and unity among Malaysians, despite differences in age, race and cultural background," she said.
Raja Muizzuddin Shah, 16, who hopes to be an army officer, said the Merdeka celebration was a "must-attend" event for him.
"The event instils patriotism, especially in the younger generation," he said, adding he was glad he was able to shake hands with the prime minister.
While most showed their patriotism by waving the national flag, some took it to the next level by wearing creative attire with designs based on the Jalur Gemilang.
Muhammad Samali Ismail, 50, from Kuala Kangsar, Perak, had made it a point to wear baju Melayu and a songkok decorated with the national flag every Merdeka Day for the past six years.