A sense of loss tinged with gratitude filled the hearts of Singaporeans as they lined the streets and braved the heavy rain yesterday to bid their final goodbyes to the nation's founding father, Lee Kuan Yew.
As Mr Lee's cortege passed them from Parliament House, where his body had been lying in state since last Wednesday, many people cheered, waved the Singapore flag, clapped and chanted the name of the country's first prime minister.
Others cried even as the sky seemed to weep with them.
"I'm just too thankful," said Ang Quee Whuay, 83, who wept even after the cortege had passed. She was at the Supreme Court with her daughters, Georgina Lee, 60, and Sharon Lee, 58.
The younger Ms Lee said her father died when she was just six, and she and her four siblings would not have been able to attend school if not for the monthly $30 bursaries given by Mr Lee then.
In tears, she said: "We were living in a kampung, with dogs and pigs running around. If not for (Mr Lee), we would not be here today."
Many like human-resource consultant Lim Choo Thim, 58, managed to catch only a very quick glimpse of Mr Lee's cortege, which was making its way to the National University of Singapore's University Cultural Centre for a state funeral service.
"But, to me, it's not about catching a glimpse. It's about being here, celebrating the life that he had spent for Singapore, and being with him as his cortege passed," Mr Lim told My Paper.
Yesterday's wet weather also reminded some of the memorable 1968 National Day Parade (NDP) held at the Padang, also amid a heavy downpour.
The Padang was one of the places Mr Lee's hearse passed.
For David Hong, 58, it was deja vu. He had watched the 1968 NDP. Forty-seven years later, he said he was braving the downpour again, this time to send off Mr Lee. "It's a test of our spirit and determination. Why should we be afraid of rain when Mr Lee Kuan Yew has gone through a lot more storms?"
More than 1.4 million people have paid their last respects to Mr Lee at Parliament House and community tribute sites islandwide in the past week. He died last Monday at the age of 91.
At the state funeral service for the former prime minister, 10 eulogies were delivered. President Tony Tan Keng Yam said in his eulogy that how Singaporeans came together to mourn Mr Lee's death would have made him proud.
Dr Tan said: "This was what he had worked for his whole life - to build a united people, who respect and care for one another as fellow citizens."
"There will never be another Lee Kuan Yew. No one person can take his place nor do what he did," he added.
Mr Lee's elder son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, said that while "the light that has guided us all these years has been extinguished", it was "not quite so".
"Mr Lee's principles and ideals continue to invigorate this government and to guide our people. His life will inspire Singaporeans and others for generations to come...It remains our duty to continue his life's work to carry the torch forward and keep the flame burning bright," said PM Lee.
This article was first published on March 30, 2015.
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