Turkey is commemorating Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the republic who led the country into independence after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, on Nov. 10, the 83rd anniversary of his passing.
The country came to a standstill at 09.05 a.m., the exact time of his death as sirens and car horns blared across the country, followed by two minutes of silence in his memory.
An official ceremony was held in Anıtkabir, Atatürk’s mausoleum in the capital Ankara, as crowds flocked to the site.
According to official data, some 6.4 million people, including some 360,000 foreigners, visited Anıtkabir in 2019. Due to lockdowns and curfews during the coronavirus pandemic, the number of visitors decreased to 1.1 million people in 2020.
Number of Anıtkabir visitors so far surpasses that of 2020
The number in the first 10 months of 2021 has already surpassed the number of visits for the entire 2020. With the number of people flocking to Anıtkabir on Nov. 10, officials expect that the number of November visitors to top the number of October visitors, which was more than 365,000, the highest of 2021.
Dolmabahçe Palace, the site where the country’s first president spent his final hours in his death bed, will be the place where mourners are expected to flock in Istanbul.
Atatürk was born in Thessaloniki, today’s Greece, in 1881. Pursuing a military school in Monastır (Bitola in present day North Macedonia), he traveled to Istanbul to attend a military academy from which he graduated in 1905.
Conducting official duties in Syria, Macedonia, a war in Libya and the Balkan wars, he proved his skills as a military commander in World War I, particularly in the Gallipoli campaign.
His first step for the independence of Turkey started with his arrival in the northern province of Samsun on May 19, 1919. After a series of victories against, he launched the Great Offensive, an all-out war for the birth of a new country.
Declaring the establishment of the Turkish Republic on Oct. 29, 1923, Atatürk became the new country’s first president.
House converted into Atatürk Museum
Atatürk died at Dolmabahçe Palace on Nov. 10, 1938 at the age of 57.
In his memory, somber ceremonies will be held across the country and wreaths will be laid at the monuments honoring the leader.
One of the citizens mourning on Nov. 10 will be the 83-year-old Mukaddes Kokeralp Çırak, who converted her residential house into an Atatürk museum in the northwestern province of Edirne.
“I love him more than my father and mother,” she told Demirören News Agency in her house where all the clocks have been set at 09.05 a.m.
“I beg the young people. Show love and respect to Atatürk. Without him, we could not win these lands,” she added.
On the morning of Nov. 10, she will wear all black and attend the mourning ceremonies. “My heart bleeds every Nov. 10. That’s why I wear black. But on Victory Days [Aug. 30], I wear white,” she noted.
Covering the walls of her house with different kinds of Atatürk photos, Çırak recently had a sculptor make a statue depicting Atatürk sitting on an armchair.
The statue is the “seat of honor” in the living room of her house.
“I have set surveillance cameras all around the house due to fear of theft. I love the statue. I am afraid someone might steal it,” she added.
Gürkan Gürbüz is another citizen who loves Atatürk. He has a big archive of the newspapers that had given the news of Atatürk’s passing on their front pages.
He will show his collection of the old front pages covered in news of his death in “The Mourning Pages of History” exhibition on Nov. 10, like he does every Nov. 10.
“These front pages will be the best inheritance I will leave to my children,” Gürbüz said.
Hurriyet Daily News