It’s Remembrance Sunday today. A day that bizarrely resonates with me somewhat, despite being a non-citizen.

26 years ago on November 8, this happened:

I saw it on TV3 news and then remembered that a senior of mine in the year above me at SDAR was in 6th form at a boarding school there. Little did I know that 6 months later, JPA would announce I would be attending that same school in the autumn of 1988. Not surprisingly, my parents were worried as was I, despite the reassurance given by said JPA man. Just to add, little did I also know then that in a year’s time that I was to be made head of the school’s Boarding House[1] which meant, along with the Head Boy, I would represent the boarders of my school at the laying of the poppy wreath ceremony in 1989, only two years after the tragedy.

Unlike today, I remembered the Sunday morning to be overcast. It was a tad cold for my Melayu standards, but I had over my black suit a heavy overcoat to keep the morning chill away. As I walked with the school headmaster and the Head Boy up along Darling Street towards the town centre, I only remembered it being a sombre affair. The striking thing about that Sunday unlike other days, though, was the strong military and police presence along the streets. By that time, I was no stranger to unmarked police cars with bulletproofed windscreens in this town, but the security that day was thoroughly beefed up. There was a soldier armed with an SA-80 like every 100 metres. Overhead, helicopters whizzed by.

We lined up, all three of us, at the side of the cenotaph[2], together with other members of the local community, some representing businesses, local government and other schools. We each were then handed a poppy wreath each. I cannot remember much what went on apart from taking our cue from the headmaster to lay the poppy wreath at the cenotaph. As with any other remembrance days in most Commonwealth nations, the two-minute silence, the gun salutes and the Last Post were part of the ceremony. What went through my head at that time? I was worried, but probably just as worried every time my plane takes off the runaway. The logical thing was, an atrocity hitting the same location again within a short time frame is going to be as likely as getting hit by lightning twice, and that calmed me down a lot. After the ceremony, I couldn’t remember if our small school party of three went to the local cathedral for a Remembrance Service to join the rest of the Boarding House or not.

A few years later at university, I saw Rattle and Hum for the first time on video:

My views on Bono’s outspokenness are pretty indifferent, but I agree that he had a point here. At the end of the day, there are decent people anywhere on this planet, regardless of skin colour and religious beliefs. Put politics in the picture, hancusss.

It wasn’t until many years later, I found out my granddad did the exact same thing on Poppy Day in 1955 at the Taiping Esplanade. Talk about keeping it going in the family, eh.

[1]The capitals are not entered in error – the school had only one boarding house.
[2]A memorial to the Inniskilling regiments and the servicemen and women from County Fermanagh who died in two world wars.