“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” - Shannon L. Alder
We remember stories. The stories we believe and tell have the power to make us, as individuals, as families, as a society, and as part of humanity. This year, with the death of one man, many stories were unearthed, retold, and reinterpreted. Some may be true, and perhaps some are not. After all, there are many, and stories have a life of their own. All of them hold magic, even those that masquerade as truth. They can inspire and build; they can tarnish and destroy. As readers and listeners, we have the power to choose, what to believe, what to remember. We align to what resonates us, and I hope that the stories that we choose are the ones that can help us continue to build a good way forward.
Beyond the impressive fighter jet aerial display, the bright lights, and the choreographed shows, I hope the kids will remember taking that long walk to pay respect to a man named Lee Kuan Yew. What made him remarkable? His single-minded dedication to an ideal vision, his persevering discipline, his forethought, his curiosity, the way he loved his wife, among other things. Roo insisted on bringing her Mandarin review materials for the long wait, because she thought LKY would be pleased with that. They will remember the story of a heartbroken Singapore, beautiful and united, as she mourned her father. "Everyone is so nice!" both Roo and Red exclaimed as we persevered through the queue, escorted by warm empathic smiles. This man was not perfect, and yet he is mourned not just in his home, but by other nations around the world. These are the stories we choose to tell, because it will help our little ones move forward, to stand on the shoulder of a giant, and drive better things for themselves.
I hope the kids will remember that year after year, we hear sirens wailing throughout Singapore at 9:00am every National Day. That at that moment, and during the parade, we stood among family and friends, reciting the pledge and singing Majulah Singapura, as a promise to ourselves and to each other. And I hope that as we do this, and in every thing they do, they understand their part in that bigger story.
On a more playful note, the kids will remember how tickled their mother is of a multi-faceted Prime Minister, with a childlike curiosity and learning attitude worth emulating. He leads a country, codes, speaks at least three languages with native proficiency, and shares his unique eye through instagram, all in a day's work.
“Stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark. Begin at the beginning. Tell Gregory a story. Make some light.” - Kate DiCamillo, The Tale of Despereaux