• Pritam Singh

15 February 1942

Stamps are a window to the world. In the 1980s, my school friends and I collected and exchanged stamps regularly. As a consequence, I think our general knowledge subconsciously improved, even if many of us wondered why stamps from the former Soviet Union always had “NYOTA CCCP” printed on them!

I still enjoy looking at stamps closely and even picking up some that commemorate important occasions.

Last year I bought a first day cover commemorating the 75th anniversary of the end of the WW2. Like me, generations of Singaporeans have never seen war and deprivation. It was on this day 79 years ago that Singapore was invaded by the Japanese (correction: the British surrendered on this day). One individual who fought for the British in Malaya was my grandfather who found himself in Changi prison after the rout of the British army by the outnumbered Japanese troops. I never saw my grandfather but it does shake my bones thinking about the choices many of our forebears made, or were forced to make and the world they found themselves in.

Today, commemorates Total Defence Day on 15 Feb every year. While the past is an important reference point, Total Defence has taken on a more practical and ever-present meaning - one that is especially evident when Singaporeans need to step up in the face of challenge and adversity.

Many of us have seen how the COVID-19 front-liners - health workers, soldiers, volunteers, stood up to protect all of us over the past year. It has been a colossal fight and they truly represent the best of Singapore. Recognising them and their efforts are more than worthy of a first-day cover in its own right! Those stamps would definitely be a part of my small collection.

(P.S. NYOTA CCCP means “Post of the USSR”!)

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