The problem with being forced to serve the nation is that it is an unpopular option where one loses one's identity, freedom, and often, intelligence. The regimentation of it all equates to having every single day repeating itself with negligible variance for 22 to 24 months of one's life. Hence, it is common to feel bored and dread as one wait for time to pass, and hopefully, quickly. Isn't that part of the Singapore story? Yet, a cultural exchange with the US soldiers brought home a very sobering lesson.
We were taught personnel and vehicles check to our dismay for such an activity has been haunting us for the past year as part of my vocation. This meant that we were bored to tears and would grab anything to stab ourselves to get away from it all. Sensing our boredom, disinterest and at times disrespect, Hill (one of the instructors) decides to share an anecdote that rings true.
He told us that in his line of duty, he has checked countless of cars and personnel. It is a tiring and boring job because the level of checks there is so thorough due to a much higher possibility of an attack there than it is in Singapore. This meant that at any moment, he and his comrades may lose their lives and the thought of that spurs him to ensure that each check is as thorough as possible. As such, he enjoys the utter boredom of his work because being bored means that nothing has happened. At the end of the day, everyone returns to their loved ones safe and sound. In this light, he told us to appreciate the boring days and he hoped that everyday will be as boring as possible for us.
Touched by his "blessing", I realised that Memorial Day was a couple of weeks ago and the passing of this commemoration certainly made what he said utterly sobering. As such, let us offer a prayer to those who have served and passed on as the proverbial rose upon their graves.