This year’s National Day Parade (NDP), themed “Together, a Stronger Singapore”, was rather different from those we had been accustomed to—the large large-scale events with thousands of performers and tens of thousands of spectators either at the Floating Platform, the National Stadium or the Padang.
But due to COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, Singapore’s 55th birthday celebrations on 9 Aug were scaled down. The organisers of NDP 2020 hoped that Singaporeans would stay home and celebrate with their families instead, and watch the features on live broadcasts on free-to-air television and internet platforms throughout the day. The mobile columns, flypasts and fireworks were viewable from the heartlands.
Joshua Wan, who is an Anglo-Chinese School (ACS) alumnus and attends Church of our Saviour, composed “Everything I Am”, the NDP 2020 theme song. It was performed by Nathan Hartono, who also attended ACS. Joshua wrote the theme songs for NDPs in 2003 (“One United People”) and 2006 (“My Island Home”), and was also the parade’s musical director those years.
Joshua and Dr Sydney Tan, the NDP 2020 musical director, used to be part of All Good Gifts Ministries, a para-church music ministry during the 1990s–2000s. Earlier in the year, before COVID-19 became a global emergency, sending into our homes and behind our masks, Joshua had coincidentally been thinking about how, if he were to write an NDP song, it would be about “how blessed we were in Singapore, how freely we can pursue opportunities, and how we sometimes take these freedoms for granted. How, if we are given a thing of value that we did not earn or pay for, and continue to be given it year after year, we tend to start to view it as an entitlement and not as a blessing. Worse still, it starts to lose its inherent value in our eyes.
“I wanted to remember the blessings of those that went before us and, in turn, remember to be blessings to those who come after.”
Dr Tan liked the ideas behind this ode to family, togetherness, kindness and gratitude, and so Joshua was commissioned to write the NDP song. Joshua shared: “The songs I write tend to convey my point of view, so this year I’m writing as a father, a husband, a teacher and a musician, all of whom live in Singapore in 2020.”
In the same spirit, the music video of “Everything I Am” focuses on the stories of everyday Singaporeans, 55 of whom are featured in this year’s NDP.
When asked what his birthday wish for Singapore was, Joshua said, “Get well. Get back on your feet. But don’t forget the lessons you have learnt from this COVID-19 experience: spend more time with family and loved ones, learn to cook at least three dishes yourself so you can survive at home without repeating your menu more than twice a week, and take your dog for a long walk at least once a day.”
By the MCS Communications Team / Photo courtesy of Joshua Wan