Children’s Day events scheduled April 22 at Incirlik

  • Published
  • By Mehmet Birbiri
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Although children can be frustrating from time to time, they are our hope and future.

Turkey emphasizes the love, hope and future of children by proclaiming a national holiday for them. We celebrate the holiday every year on April 23, and it is officially known as National Sovereignty and Children's Day.

There is a lot of history behind this day. When the Ottoman Empire was defeated in World War I, England, France, Italy, Greece and Russia's winning forces occupied Turkey.

The country's ruling sultan was only a figurehead because the occupying forces, mainly English forces, dictated orders to him in Istanbul, the capital of the empire. The occupying British forces closed Ottoman Parliament. Some parliament members fled, some were exiled and others were put in prison.

Mustafa Kemal, later named Ataturk, didn't stand still. Knowing and believing in his nation, he left Istanbul and ignited the War of Independence in Anatolia, set up resistance forces and organized congresses at different locations.

To succeed, Ataturk knew the nation had to be united, so he sent messages throughout the country asking for support.

Representatives traveled to Ankara to help make decisions on the nation's future. Ankara was in a central region of Anatolia and was not occupied by the foreign forces. Ankara was proclaimed as the capital of the country later on. The first Grand National Assembly opened April 23, 1920, under Ataturk's chairmanship.

The vital actions of the Grand National Assembly saved the country and led to founding the Republic of Turkey. During the War of Independence, many children were left orphaned. Ataturk's concern for these children led to the foundation of the Institute for the Salvation of Children. Then, because he felt children were the future of Turkey, Ataturk dedicated the day - the young republic's most important day - to the children of the nation in celebration of the opening of the Grand National Assembly.

This year marks the 92nd anniversary of the national holiday. Ceremonies and celebrations take place in Ankara, Istanbul and other major cities. Throughout the country, elementary schools are decorated and children wear special uniforms to commemorate the day.

One special activity is to have a child symbolically in charge of every administrative position from president to mayor. Children usually give orders like opening new playgrounds or schools. Ceremonies are scheduled in Adana, as well as Incirlik Village.

In 1979, the United Nation's Year of the Child, the Turkish government proposed April 23 be declared a holiday for the children of the world. That same year, Turkey began inviting children from every country to participate in Children's Day festivities.

The state-run Turkish Radio Television Corporation sponsors an annual international Children's Day Festival. Hundreds of children from different countries march in the streets of Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir and other major cities of Turkey in their national outfits performing their native dances. Every year children from more than 60 countries come together to celebrate the event and plant the seeds of peace and brotherhood.

Within the scope of Children's Day, the 10th Tanker Base Command and the 39th Air Base Wing will jointly hold a festival 4-7 p.m. April 22 at Arkadas Park on Incirlik Air Base. Focused on children, the festival will include competitions, shows, bouncy castles, ponies, food and drinks, games and prizes, and cultural activities.