Millions of Turkish people across the country on Nov. 10 marked the 81st anniversary of the demise of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the leader who led the country’s war of independence and laid foundation of the Republic of Turkey.
As is customary, daily life stopped at 9:05 a.m. local time, sirens wailed to mark the exact moment of Ataturk’s death at the age of 57 and millions of people across the country observed two minutes of silence.
Official ceremonies were held at Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of Atatürk, in the capital Ankara.
“We once again commemorate the Commander-in-Chief of the War of Independence, the founder of our Republic, our first President and Veteran Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, on 81st anniversary of his death,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the ceremony.
“We will continue with all our strength to live, sustain, develop and strengthen our republic that we inherited from him,” he added.
Also attending the ceremony were main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener, the heads of high judicial bodies, commanders of armed forces, representatives of political parties, bureaucrats and other state officials.
Atatürk was born in 1881 in the Greek city of Thessaloniki, then part of the Ottoman Empire. His military education started in 1893 when he was enrolled in a military school in Thessaloniki.
He continued his education in the Military Academy of Istanbul and then graduated as a second lieutenant in 1902.
With his extraordinary skills, Atatürk quickly climbed the military ranks, becoming a captain in 1905.
1911 marked a significant point in Atatürk’s life, as he fought
Italians in Tripoli and won a decisive victory, proving his skills in the military field. However, this huge success was nothing compared to what future planned for him.
He drew attention of his subordinates with his outstanding services following the start of Balkan Wars in 1912. He played a significant role in recapturing Dimetoka and Edirne provinces.
In 1914, World War I started and the alliances deployed soldiers on the Gallipoli peninsula and the battle of Dardanelles (Çanakkale) started.
Atatürk and Turkish soldiers made history by showing incredible resistance.
Atatürk’s order to his soldiers at the war still echoes in the hearts of all Turks: “I don’t order you to attack, I order you to die!”
His star continued to shine during his services in northwestern Edirne province and southeastern Diyarbakır province in 1916, earning major general title the same year. He fought against the British army in Damascus in 1918, and led successful resistance against it.
Following occupation of Istanbul by the allies in 1919, Atatürk went to northern Samsun province as the inspector of the 9th army, which changed his life completely, and Turkey’s eventually.
After he said that the liberation of country from the occupant forces could only be possible through the will of people, he organized two congresses, in Sivas and Erzurum provinces, where the battle of independence and the country’s future were discussed.
On April 23, 1920, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey was established and Ataturk was elected as the head of the government and speaker of the parliament, which enabled him to adopt laws essential to beat occupant forces.
The battle of Turkish independence started on May 15, 1919, when the first bullet against the occupant Greek forces in İzmir was fired by Hasan Tahsin, a Turkish journalist who was killed shortly after his action.
Turkish army, under the leadership of Atatürk, won incredible battles against the occupant forces, including the first and second Battles of İnönü, Sakarya, Great Offensive, until 1923 when the Lausanne Treaty was signed on July 24.
The incredible achievements on the battlefield led to Turkish
independence, and the Republic of Turkey was founded on Oct. 29, 1923.
Atatürk became the first president of the republic until Nov. 10, 1938, when he died in Istanbul at the age of 57 due to cirrhosis disease.
Hurriyet Daily News