As we debate the future of National Service (NS) years from now, our present-day Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) remains unwavering in its focus on the tasks at hand as our country's gatekeeper.
And Singaporeans continue their rite of passage as full-time National Servicemen (NSF), backed by their families just as NS has always been for the past 45 years.
Yesterday's rifle presentation ceremony for 402 recruits from the 1st Guards Battalion (1 GDS) at the War Memorial Park was not just an SAF event.
Held in the heart of the city, 1 GDS recruits were joined by family and friends who turned up in droves - on a weekday afternoon - and braved the rain to witness how the Singapore Army formally presents its newest soldiers with their rifles. Past batches of NSFs had been symbolically armed at WW2 battle sites around our island nation or in twilight ceremonies in their Basic Military Training camps.
The venue as well as the date and time for yesterday's event were laden with meaning. The War Memorial Park - fondly known as the chopsticks because of its four 61-metre tall concrete pillers - remembers civilians who died during the Japanese Occupation of Singapore during WW2.
And the rifle presentation at 6:20pm marked the precise moment that British forces surrendered to the Japanese on 15 February 1942. The date marks Total Defence Day and is used to keep warm the message that Singaporeans alone defend their destiny.
In a cyberpioneer story, Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General Neo Kian Hong commented on the significance of the venue: "This is a sacred place of remembrance of our forefathers who lost their lives during World War II."
CDF added: "Remember always that strong security underpins Singapore's survival and success. Ultimately, if we are not prepared to defend ourselves, no one else will. That is why we commemorate Total Defence Day."
According to cyberpioneer, LG Neo joined Chief of Army Major-General Ravinder Singh, senior SAF officers and warrant officers, students from the Singapore National Cadet Corps, and family and friends of the recruits as the ceremony unfolded.
Addressing his troops, 1 GDS Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Fairoz bin Hassan, spoke of their initiation into Basic Military Training, which would eventually lead them to becoming Guardsmen, or heliborne infantry.
"In front of this memorial, you will affirm your commitment to the defence of Singapore. You will stand with me, and all the others before you, in making this promise. You will pledge to take care of your weapons and dedicate yourself to the brotherhood of arms in 1 Guards."
The 5.56mm SAR-21 assault rifle was designed and manufactured in Singapore for the SAF's specific operational requirements. Its optical sight takes away the need to calibrate the rifle for each soldier, unlike the M-16 it replaced which needed to have iron sights zeroed for its owner. During a mobilisation, ground forces armed with SAR-21 rifles can therefore turn mission-ready in a shorter time.
"Soldiers of 1 Guards, receive your weapons knowing that your country gives it to you with the trust that you will put it to good use," said LTC Fairoz.
"You will follow the footsteps of many before you, and mark that symbolic first step to becoming soldiers of the Singapore Armed Forces. Take care of your weapon, and it will take care of you. With it comes the responsibility of being a citizen soldier of Singapore. Use it to fulfil the promise that we have made on the day of our enlistment - that we will protect and honour and independence of Singapore with our lives."