From Fathers to Sons

“Blood sweat and tears for 45 years.

Thank you for soldiering on.

                              Love, Singapore”

This was one of the many notes expressing their gratitude for our national servicemen that I saw at the “NS45 Showcase@Toa Payoh” just now. It was touching.

Marking the 45th year of National Service (NS), the roving exhibition is making its rounds in the heartlands.

The theme ‘NS45: From Fathers to Sons’ resonates with many, as fathers who served their NS in the early days share their experience and advice with their sons serving today.

While NS enlists Singaporean men to military service, the women in their lives – mothers, daughters, sisters, girlfriends and wives – also “experience” NS through their sharing of In-Camp Training and Basic Military Training stories.

It is these different stories that bind us together, shaping NS as a distinct Singaporean experience, a rite of passage for all boys.

How much things have changed? At the Time Tunnel exhibition, we are reminded of how NS has evolved over the years. Soldiers used to wear starched khaki uniforms, used M16 rifles and had wooden cabinets. Today, our 3rd Generation (3G) soldiers don pixelated combat uniforms, carry made-in-Singapore SAR21 rifles, and employ some of the most advanced technologies to defend Singapore.

In SAF’s Cyberpioneer publication, Lieutenant Colonel (Vol) James Suresh shared how his friends kept him going in the Army. “We were 18-year-olds then, now we are attending each other’s children’s weddings! I think that really tells you something about how the Army brings people together and bonds them.”

Army-issued equipment, uniforms, and combat ration have changed over the years. But one thing remains the same – the sense of brotherhood and camaraderie among the men who served together. The bonds they have built over NS training last a lifetime.

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