THEY came wreathed with wide smiles of relief, clutching picnic baskets, eager to close the chapter of Singapore's battle with SARS.
As early as 4pm on Tuesday, people started pouring into the Botanic Gardens to attend a SARS commemoration ceremony organised by the Health Ministry, National Healthcare Group and Singapore Health Services.
Of the 4,000 who came, some were next-of-kin of SARS casualties there to say their final goodbyes, some were grateful SARS survivors hoping to personally thank their nurses, others were health-care workers in uniform.
In what was probably his swan-song address, outgoing Health Minister Lim Hng Kiang started by paying a moving tribute to the 33 victims here who lost their lives to SARS.
To their loved ones, he regretted that they had to go through the pain and grief of not being able to give their kin proper last rites.
What brought on the tears was a video featuring soft-focus images, poems and elegies delivered shakily by the bereaved children, friends and colleagues of fallen SARS victims. The Straits Times/Asia News Network