Spirit of Merdeka still lingers, 56 years on

I'm inspired by the many readers who shared their experience of joy and what they feel about our 56th Merdeka celebrations.

I welcomed and celebrated our nation's Independence in Kuala Lumpur in 1957. I can still recall the fond memories of how I, as an active member of the British Red Cross Society, Malaya Branch

was given the opportunity to participate in the celebrations. (At that time I was also a volunteer in the Civil Defence Corps, KL Branch).

I was a 21-year-old payroll clerk at the Chief Mechanical Engineer's Office, Malayan Railways, Sentul.

What an unforgettable experience it was for my contingent to march into the newly built Merdeka Stadium on the morning of Aug 31, 1957.

The most significant part was the march past in the stadium of my contingent in front of the country's first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Rulers of the Malay States and other high ranking dignitaries seated in the grandstand.

A day earlier we had been rehearsing our marching for hours, especially the part when we had to turn our heads and salute as we approached the grandstand.

When Tunku shouted "Merdeka" several times to proclaim the nation's Independence from British rule, many in the stadium literally shed tears in jubilation.

I clapped and shouted with delight because I was very excited to be part of the historical celebration.

The whole of Merdeka Stadium that morning was packed to capacity comprising people of all races, both young and old, all in an enthusiastic mood to welcome our new nation.

Even though I was seated at the far-end of the stadium I could still witness the lowering of the Union Jack, marking the end of British rule and the hoisting of our Malayan flag, the Jalur Gemilang.

Indeed, this national celebration of much pomp and splendour remains profound in my memory to this day.

I feel proud and thank God that I'm still around with good health to share the experience of Merdeka with our younger generation.

S. Ragunathan

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