It's been a tough year.
Covid-19 has brought with it more than a few challenges since it arrived on our shores in January. But in the blink of a blurry eye (fogged up by what seem like countless daily temperature logs, Gov.sg WhatsApp updates, and Safe Entry check-ins), it's going to be National Day again!
We've all tried our best to adapt to a new normal, and the fact that the National Day Parade is still taking place (albeit greatly scaled down and with numerous saftey measures in place) is somewhat reassuring: we've made it thus far, and we can continue fighting.
Here, we speak to three of the young men and women who will be participating for the first time in the NDP - more specifically, the Parade & Ceremony segment at the Padang, the site of Singapore's first NDP in 1966.
1. 3SG Roy Ng Battery Sergeant Major, Presidential Gun Salute
Here's a first for the NDP: The Presidential Gun Salute (PGS) will be conducted right next to the marching contingents at the Padang - a feat made possible because of the fewer contingents and the smaller size of each participating contingent: the State Colours; Guard of Honour (GOH) contingents formed by the Singapore Army, the Republic of Singapore Navy, the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), and the Singapore Police Force (SPF); and a combined band from the Singapore Armed Forces and the SPF.
More importantly, stringent safety measures have been put in place.
"For previous NDPs, the PGS guns were fired from M3Gs (Military Float Bridges) on the water because of concerns that the shell fragments would fly around. This year, we’re able to do it at the Padang because of several measures put in place: we blocked off the road near the PGS guns being fired to prevent members of the public being anywhere near the guns when they’re firing. We’ve also deployed sentries at the entrances to that road to ensure that no one will enter the range of the PGS guns," explains 3SG Roy Ng, who added that the shorter training time and the wearing of masks proved to be challenging.
"We tried to improve this by correcting the training programme such that when we started with the 25-pounder, it was a very short training period. Over time, we increased the duration of the training such that our guys were able to progressively adapt to the wearing of masks," says the 20-year-old.
"Now, they are able to wear masks and execute their marching and gun drills efficiently with no problem."
A message from 3SG Roy Ng: "My team and I are very honoured to be able to salute the President of Singapore and frontline workers, to thank them for their efforts during this Covid-19 situation."
2. ME1 Lorraine Lim GOH Contingent, Air Force
"Since I was young, I’ve always wanted to be part of this significant and dignified parade," says ME1 Lorraine Lim. "It’s an honour to be here."
The 21-year-old will be part of the GOH contingent from the RSAF.
During the parade, guests at the Padang and everyone tuning in to the live broadcast from home (on TV and the NDPeeps YouTube channel) will be able to enjoy NDP faves like the State Flag Flypast, executed by the RSAF's CH-47SD Chinook helicopter accompanied by two AH-64D Apache helicopters:
A delta formation of six F-15SG fighter jets will also perform the Roar of Unity past the Padang before heading to different parts of Singapore in a reassuringly deafening tribute to frontline fighters and essential workers:
And the same will happen on ground at the parade. "One significant thing about this year’s National Day Parade would be us giving an additional salute to the frontline fighters, which I think is my greatest honour because they’ve been fighting so hard for us, for our nation," says ME1 Lorraine.
A message from ME1 Lorraine Lim: "Together we are stronger as a nation, and we will get through this global pandemic and economic crisis together."
3. 3SG S Nishikant GOH Contingent, Army
One of the things our commandos are best known for is their "never-say-die" spirit, which could very well describe the SG United spirit in this current climate.
That's a sentiment shared by 3SG S Nishikant who will be part of the GOH contingent formed by the Singapore Army at NDP2020. It's his first time taking part in the NDP and his pride is palpable.
"Despite this Covid-19 pandemic going on, it’s very good that they continued with the NDP because it shows our fighting spirit to get through this situation," says the 26-year-old. "At the same time, it also gives fellow Singaporeans the confidence that we can get through this. I’m proud to be at this particular NDP."
A message from 3SG Nishikant: "We will get through this together!"