Tag Archives: Turkish history

Anit Kabir: The Mausoleum of Ataturk

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Anit Kabir

When reviewing the alphabet in my Kindergarten phonics lesson last year, I once had a student volunteer the word ‘God’ as we attempted to brainstorm words that started with ‘g’. I was shocked that this English word was familiar to 5-year-old Turkish students. So, I asked my students to define it. One of my favorite students-charming, precocious and wickedly smart-blasted his arm into the air. I could not resist. I had to call on him. His definition?! ‘Ataturk’.

While this may offend or surprise some, it stuck with me. To this 5-year old, Ataturk was the most important person, figure and symbol he has ever encountered. As the founder of the modern Turkish state, his vision transformed the people, the land and the nation of Turkey. He introduced reforms that promoted the arts and education. He empowered women as equals in society and gave them the right to vote. He oversaw the introduction of the Latin alphabet and established the modern Turkish language. There are very few other examples in history, where one man’s vision and actions shaped an entire nation (or to my 5-year old student…his world)

walkway to Anit Kabir

Located on a hill overlooking the city of Ankara, this impressive monument celebrates the life, accomplishments and vision of Ataturk. Admittedly, I am a fan of monuments and museums, especially those that are particularly nostalgic and ambitious in their efforts to establish the legacy of whatever they attempt to memorialize. I was not disappointed.

Anit Kabir presents Ataturk’s vision and fight for a modern Turkish state. At the entrance, three men and three women stand equally to greet visitors. Intellectuals , democratic ideals and youth are presented as the face and future of the nation. This monument houses the body of Ataturk, but also the vision. It serves as  a regular meeting place to celebrate the country’s progress and potential. It features stone from every corner of the country and showcases the sculpture and design of Turkish artists. Read the rest of this entry

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Today is Youth and Sports Day, but the holiday was established to commemorate the beginning of the Turkish War of Independence. On May 19, 1919, Atatürk arrived in Samsun to rally his troops to challenge the Allied powers, and their efforts to carve what remained of the Ottoman Empire between themselves.

This day is also widely recognized as Atatürk’s birthday. While his exact birthday is unknown, he famously declared that he deeply resonated with the spirit of May 19th and felt this day could be his birthday. Thus, May 19th has great cultural and historical significance, as well as contemporary relevance. On this day, Turkey comes together to remember the achievements of their great leader, and celebrate the athletic accomplishments of the next generation of Turks.

May 19th: Youth and Sports Day

Happy Istanbul Independence Day!

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Today is Istanbul Independence Day. This holiday celebrates the liberation of Istanbul during the War of Independence. Following the loss of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, the Allied powers (led by France, Russia and the United Kingdom) controlled the land which once fell under the Ottoman Empire. French, British and Italian troops occupied Istanbul. Today’s holiday celebrates the victory of armed Turkish forces in Istanbul, an essential and significant step on the road for independence, leading to the foundation of Modern Turkey. While many people in Istanbul are forced to go to work and treat this day as any other, the students, staff and teachers of the public and private schools in Istanbul receive the day off. I will spend my day with friends of mine from work, sipping coffee over a long and indulgent Turkish breakfast.