Saturday morning 31 August 2013. I was on parade for the nation's 56th year Merdeka celebration. Yes, I was even early, well before the arrivals of the VVIPs.
The scene was all jubilance, joy and colours. Participants had arrived and took up their positions in vibrant and patriotic costumes. There was loud music and everything was ready to go with clockwork precision. I know because I was very much involved in Merdeka parades when I was the KS 4 Infantry Division just before my retirement.
But it was not to be that I was actually on parade at Dataran Merdeka, I was watching the live telecast from the comfort of my home. Am I patriotic enough as I was not actually there in person? I wondered.
My thoughts came with guilt. Am I not patriotic? What is it to be patriotic? I suppose I was and am still patriotic enough to have sat through the whole two and half hours. I had contributed enough to the nation whilst in service in one way or other.
I suppose I would be there if I had an invitation to attend the celebration. I am too old to jost for a standing space along the line of spectators belakang tali. Perhaps my pride got in the way. Would you be comfortable to see me standing for 2 and a half hours. I do not expect to be at the VIP stand, maybe a bench somewhere for retired senior officers? Patriotism is respect and acknowledgement for those who had sacrificed. No?
But I digress.
I noticed the changes in this year's parade from past parades. The music and songs are more upbeat and patriotic. Even the NegaraKu has a new arrangement. I could hardly recognise the Negaraku in its new arrangement. But I knew it must be the Negaraku as I am still familiar with the protocols and format for Tuanku's arrival.
I am awed and impressed with the display of Artillery assets. New rocket launches, medium guns and air defence systems. I am very proud and glad that we have some fairly sophisticated assets. The Police Vat 69 group and our 10 Para Bde contingent had put up very impressive displays. Families of Perwira Lahad Datu were also on parade. I was moved and touched by their presence. But I missed our field guns. Shouldn't they be on parade as well ? 1 ARTY was deployed to Lahad Datu too and had provided the fire support needed for the operations. It would be the Victory Parade for the Regiment, meeting the theme of this year's celebration - Patriotism.