Türkiye paused at 9:05 a.m. on Friday to honor the republic’s founder with nationwide ceremonies commemorating his pivotal role in shaping the country after leading the War of Independence
No force can hinder the rise of the country and the construction of the “Century of Türkiye,” the nation’s president said Friday, marking the 85th anniversary of the passing of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Türkiye.
“On the 85th anniversary of your passing, dear Atatürk, once again, we remember with reverence your esteemed personality, your comrades in arms, the heroic martyrs who fell for our nation, and the veterans who shed their blood for the same ideals,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wrote in the memorial book of Anıtkabir, Atatürk’s mausoleum in the capital Ankara.
“As we leave behind the first century (of the republic) with great pride and embark on the second century with the vision of the ‘Century of Türkiye,’ we are working with passion today, just as we have been for the past 21 years, to make our republic everlasting and victorious,” he said, referring to the 21 years of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) rule.
He added that they continue to elevate the Republic of Türkiye, which is the hope of the oppressed, the support for the orphaned and the pride of its citizens, in every area.
“Bless your soul,” he wrote.
Before leaving his written message, Erdoğan placed a wreath at the mausoleum and joined in a moment of silence for the late leader before taking part in the Turkish national anthem along with a distinguished delegation.
During the moment of silence, the Turkish flag was lowered to half-staff.
Communications Director Fahrettin Altun also shared a message on X, formerly known as Twitter, to mark the 85th anniversary of the passing of Atatürk: “On the 85th anniversary of the passing of the commander-in-chief of the national struggle, the founder of our republic, Gazi Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, I remember him with mercy and gratitude. I express my gratitude for all our heroes who made these lands our homeland.”
Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan also “respectfully” commemorated Atatürk on the 85th anniversary of his death.
“I reiterate our determination to strengthen our country’s sovereignty and independence through our national foreign policy. I remember with mercy and gratitude all the heroes of our war of liberation, especially Gazi Mustafa Kemal,” he said on X.
As is customary every Nov. 10 in Türkiye, daily life stopped at 9.05 a.m. local time, with sirens wailing to mark the exact moment of Atatürk’s death at age 57, and millions of people across the country observed two minutes of silence.
A short biography
Born in 1881 in Thessaloniki, Mustafa Kemal, as he was known before he was given the unique surname that translates as “Father of Turks,” died of cirrhosis, 15 years after the foundation of the republic. He started a brilliant military career in the early 20th century and served on multiple fronts during the Ottoman Empire’s eventful last years, from Libya to the Balkans. While serving in Sofia as a military attache after years on the battlefield, he sought reassignment to fieldwork. In 1915, he was appointed as a division commander and proved his military mettle as a commander during World War I. He was nicknamed the “Hero of Anafartalar” after a decisive battle on the western front, in Gallipoli. This feat later brought him wider recognition as a skilled commander and a trusted figure as he sought to rally the nation for independence in the aftermath of World War I. It was also his first brush with death, when a piece of shrapnel hit him in the chest, only to be stopped by a pocket watch he kept in his pocket.
His next mission was on the eastern front in 1916, where he managed to stop the Russian incursion and reclaimed the eastern provinces Bitlis and Muş from invading forces, a feat that helped his promotion to the rank of general. In the next two years, he served in Palestine and Syria as commander of the Seventh Army. After the war ended, he returned to Istanbul, the then capital of the Ottoman Empire. His return was at a time of invading forces’ occupation of Istanbul, where he worked secretly to organize a nationwide resistance. He found an opportunity to serve this purpose when he left the city as an “army inspector” under the guise of inspecting Ottoman troops scattered across the country. His arrival in the northern province of Samsun on May 19, 1919, is today viewed as the first step toward independence in post-war Türkiye. Once he drummed up the support of fellow commanders and the public during his travels across Anatolia, Atatürk started organizing a formal opposition to invading Allied forces, through conventions in eastern and central Turkish cities. Conventions and congresses paved the way for the foundation of a temporary government independent of the seat of the Ottoman Empire, then in its death throes and a new Parliament strictly opposing any foreign mandate. In 1920, he spearheaded the foundation of the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM) and was elected as its president, as well as head of interim government.
Under his leadership, a ragtag army, with broad public support, was formed and showed the world that a new country was rising among the ashes of the Ottoman Empire. Victories in central and western Türkiye against invading Greek forces in defensive battles in 1921 cemented trust in Atatürk and soon, he was granted the rank of Marshal. In 1922, the army launched the Great Offensive, the first counterattack against invaders. Months after a decisive victory against the Greek army, a cease-fire agreement was signed with Allied forces, paving the way for their withdrawal from Turkish territories. The Lausanne Treaty signed in 1923 officially marked the end of the conflict between invading forces and Türkiye. A few months after it was signed, Atatürk pronounced the formation of the Republic of Türkiye and he was elected as its first president. He remained in this post until his death, being elected successive four times to the presidency.
After the foundation of the republic, Atatürk devoted his life to the reconstruction of a war-torn country, which was also tested by a global economic crisis, while establishing ties with the international community Türkiye once fought. His diplomatic and economic efforts made Türkiye an emerging country with a say in international affairs. On the domestic front, Atatürk is credited with revolutionary changes, including a switch to a new alphabet, a new education system and economic reforms.
Source: Daily Sabah