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Bridges over Troubled Waters

You know how they say you eventually become your mother / father / Darth Vader? It's probably a rite of passage we all take: initially repulsed by the actions of those in the older generation, then eventually learning and understanding why they did it, and probably in our own time having the reconcile with doing exactly the same thing that once repulsed us, sometimes out of necessity, sometimes because it is the wise thing to do.
It is the evolution (or degeneration, you could argue) of youthful idealism into pragmatism, and hopefully we retain some of the former, and temper it with some of the latter, forging some sort of practical, implementable steps to see the initial ideal fulfilled, even if it often realises itself at a compromise.
So it is with the whole business of warfare, weapons and the military. I remember the first time firing a rifle and hating the fact I was shooting at a target shaped like a human being. Violence should never be an ideal, but doing away with the ability to defend ourselves isn't an option in the near future, or possibly ever, us humans being what we are.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/annegirl/4625872628/" title="20100520-025 by Lucian Teo, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4034/4625872628_0accc0caaf.jpg" width="500" height="333" alt="The Navy's Stealth Frigate" class="img-center" /></a>
My experience at this year's Navy Open House was one of beaming pride. The seafaring culture of the Navy differs from the mud, dirt and grime of the Army quite a bit. It probably also stems from the fact being the crew of a particular vessel creates a very tight-knit community because of the confined space and everyone physically moving in a single unified direction. The ships are run like clockwork and there's a touch of <abbr title="Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder">OCD</abbr> in the details, especially the placement and storage of the great number of ropes on deck. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/annegirl/4625250921/" title="20100520-020 by Lucian Teo, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4062/4625250921_90e046cfb7.jpg" width="333" height="500" alt="Rope neatly placed in a spiral" class="img-right" /></a> This is all necessary, the sailors tell me, to prevent people from tripping and falling overboard. There are enough small ledges and fittings on the ship to make unsuspecting tourists trip already. Space being a premium, steps up and down the various decks were also <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/annegirl/4625841038/in/set-72157623979626033/">extremely steep</a>. Slinging the tripod and carrying the camera while traversing these steps was quite a challenge.
As we rode the RSS Valour out to sea for a short spin, I could see the familiar skyline of my neighbourhood in the distance. It became clear that we needed to defend these shores, and I was glad for the many capable seahands who were watching over our borders.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/annegirl/4625261111/" title="Navy Sailors by their guns by Lucian Teo, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4066/4625261111_1a38cbb592.jpg" width="500" height="333" alt="Navy Sailors by their guns" class="img-center" /></a>
The <a href="http://www.mindef.gov.sg/noh/">Navy Open House</a> is open to the public this weekend at Changi Naval Base. You'll see, amongst many other things, how the Navy coordinates a hostage-rescue and how naval divers are deployed from Chinooks, but most importantly, I hope you'll be there to appreciate what these guys are doing for us on a daily basis.

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