It is a rite of passage for every Singaporean son. Enlistment into 2 years of national service, to serve and protect our home. This is where boys become men. I could go on with many more slogans from the very successful campaigns on national service. But let me just squeeze in one more: this is my brother, our army.
My little brother enlisted in the army this week. So my whole family went along with him to the sunny island in the east for the tour that they conduct for families on enlistment day. I had a ton of fun, but I'm not so sure the boys enlisting were as thrilled as me.
The journey there made us feel as if we were headed to some resort in Batam, for a holiday. Even the ferries used were the same!
Upon reareaching the island, we were greeted by banners declaring slogans which I think were supposed to encourage the enlistees. Although I'm not sure the one of a guy kissing his girlfriend goodbye was helping much. The boys were soon separated from their families and we got to go on a tour of the place while the boys settled administrative issues like surrendering their civilian identities.
The mothers and fathers reacted very diffdifferently during the tour. While the mothers were concerned about the boys' welfare, the fathers mostly remarked at how much conditions have improved since their time. As for me, it was an eye opener to a world us girls thankfully do not have to be personally acquainted with.
I'm sure the time my little brother has in the army will fly by and it will be all he talks about for the next few years. He will make beautiful friendships and he will learn how to protect the ones he loves. It may not be easy, but I'm sure he is made of stronger stuff. I'll be praying every step along the way in any case.