Some things in life take a little longer for us to understand.
While I was serving my national service, there were moments when I questioned the necessity of paying two and a half years (you guys have it lucky these days) of my life, while my female poly classmates went on to further their studies or begin their career. It was only further down the road I appreciated the resilience that national service instilled in me; it was in national service when I learned first-hand that physical limits were pliable when you asserted enough grit and will. Shattering limitations has become somewhat of a habit these days, and it all began with sweaty challenges like doing just one extra pull-up.
It wasn't until my first day at reservist when I fully understood what it meant to be a citizen and soldier of Singapore. We often deride the term "country" – the term has taken on an inanimate distant meaning through overuse.
It was at reservist I met Fahmi. He was a pilot, and somewhere in the middle of conversation I learned that he had two children, and took care of his parents. It occurred to me then that we were training not to protect just ourselves, but to protect each other. In the event of war, it is unlikely that we would successfully put up a defense by manning our front gates. We would likely have to coordinate ourselves over vast distances, physically away from our families and loved ones.
Fahmi wasn't doing his reservist training to protect his family. He was training to protect mine. I was training to protect his. The bonds of brotherhood grew with every in-camp training, and somewhere deep inside us we all knew- everyone in uniform understood – that we were doing this for each other.
My children are your children, my parents your parents. I would lay down my life to save yours because I knew without a doubt you'd do the same for mine.
This epiphany totally redefined what being a country meant to me.
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