Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s Memorial Day

  • Published
  • By by Tanju Varlıklı
  • 425th Air Base Squadron

The 85th anniversary of the death of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the Republic of Türkiye, is observed this year on Nov. 10. Atatürk, who is the founder of the Turkish Republic and its first president, devoted his life to domestic and international peace and stands as a towering figure of the 21st century.

An Atatürk Memorial ceremony will be held at Incirlik Air Base in front of the Turkish Headquarters building, and is open to those on base, on Nov. 10 at 0845 a.m.

Atatürk, whose legacy to his nation and to the world endures, served as the first president of Türkiye and was reelected four times until his death on Nov. 10, 1938. Every year, special commemorative ceremonies and programs are held throughout the country Nov. 10-17.  

At 9:05 a.m., the exact time of Atatürk’s death, sirens and horns sound throughout Türkiye for two minutes. People show respect to Atatürk by standing silently for two minutes. Government and private organizations, civilian and military schools, and military units conduct special lectures, seminars, conferences, film showings, and symposiums reflecting on the life story and works of Atatürk.

Although he spent a major part of his life on battlefields, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was a man of peace.

“Unless the country’s future is in danger, war is a murder,” is one of his famous quotes, and the main principle of the foreign policy of Türkiye is stated by his words, “peace at home, peace in the world.”

Atatürk’s heart was filled with love. Almost half a million soldiers died at Gallipoli, Türkiye, during World War I. Half of them were Turks and the other half were from other nations. The speech he gave in 1934, after the war, during his visit to Gallipoli, is a great example of him being a man of peace.

“Those heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives … you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore, rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets where they lie side by side here in this country of ours,” he said. “You, the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries … wipe away your tears, your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well.”

Atatürk devoted his life to domestic and international peace. He advocated equal rights for women, social justice, and recognition of human dignity for all people. Modern historians credit him with transforming the Ottoman Empire into a republic and with carrying out a dynamic program of economic growth and cultural modernization by establishing a new government that is truly representative of the nation’s will. Among the great leaders of history, few have achieved so much in such a short period in the social, political, economic, legal, cultural and educational arenas.

Atatürk is the only statesman in the world who was commemorated by all the world’s countries, according to a decision by the United Nations, after the 25th anniversary of his death in 1963 and 100th anniversary of his birthday in 1981. Tributes have been offered to Atatürk throughout the decades by such world statesmen as President Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, and many others.

Atatürk became an important statesman in Türkiye and in the whole world after years of struggle and strife when he proposed certain constitutional amendments Oct. 29, 1923, which would serve as a foundation for a new republic. The amendments included the following phrase: “The form of government of the State of Türkiye will be that of a republic. The president of Türkiye will be the head of state and will appoint the prime minister.”