Seventy-nine years af­ter his death, Mustafa Ke­mal Atatürk, the founder of the Repub­lic of Turkey, re­mains a revered fig­ure, and life once again came to a stand­still in the coun­try on Fri­day to mark the an­niver­sary of his death, with lead­ers and the pub­lic

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page -

TURKEY ground to a halt on Fri­day at 9.05 a.m., as mil­lion across the coun­try ob­served two min­utes of si­lence to pay their re­spects to the founder of the coun­try, Mustafa Ke­mal Atatürk, who died ex­actly at that time 79 years ago. Com­mem­o­ra­tive cer­e­monies be­gan at Atatürk’s mau­soleum in Ankara, Anıtk­abir, where Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­doğan led dig­ni­taries. Af­ter­ward at the cer­e­mony at the Pres­i­den­tial Com­plex, Er­doğan said: “In the tu­mul­tuous pe­riod of the past cen­tury, ev­ery coun­try brought up lead­ers and sought lib­er­a­tion through them. Very few lead­ers met their coun­try’s de­sired vic­tory. There is no doubt that Atatürk is one of them.”

“ONE DAY, my mor­tal body will turn to dust, but the Repub­lic of Turkey will stand for­ever,” Atatürk re­port­edly said af­ter he es­caped an as­sas­si­na­tion at­tempt in the early years of the Repub­lic. To­day, both his mem­ory and the Repub­lic stand strong 79 years af­ter his death with mod­ern Turkey’s first pres­i­dent still a beloved fig­ure for mil­lions.

On Fri­day, the pub­lic and the coun­try’s lead­ers com­mem­o­rated the man who led the War of In­de­pen­dence af­ter the fall of Ot­toman Em­pire on the an­niver­sary of his death.

As is an­nual tra­di­tion, daily life stopped as sirens wailed through­out the coun­try at 9:05 a.m., the time he passed away in 1938, at the age of 57, and peo­ple ob­served two min­utes of si­lence.

Thou­sands flocked to Atatürk’s mau­soleum in Ankara to com­mem­o­rate him.

Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­doğan, Cab­i­net mem­bers, main op­po­si­tion Repub­li­can Peo­ple’s Party (CHP) Chair­man Ke­mal Kılıç­daroğlu, Na­tion­al­ist Move­ment Party (MHP) Chair­man Devlet Bahçeli and Chief of Gen­eral Staff Gen. Hu­lusi Akar also at­tended the com­mem­o­ra­tion cer­e­mony at the mau­soleum, Anıtk­abir.

“We are once again re­mem­ber­ing our first pres­i­dent, Mustafa Ke­mal Atatürk,” Er­doğan wrote in the com­mem­o­ra­tion book. “We are work­ing day and night to bring Turkey to the level of con­tem­po­rary civ­i­liza­tion. May his soul rest in peace,” he wrote, in ref­er­ence to Atatürk’s am­bi­tious plan to make the coun­try as pros­per­ous and de­vel­oped as Western so­ci­eties.

Fol­low­ing the cer­e­mony at Anıtk­abir, a com­mem­o­ra­tion pro­gram was held at the Pres­i­den­tial Palace com­plex. In his ad­dress, Er­doğan praised Atatürk’s ef­forts dur­ing the War of In­de­pen­dence and foun­da­tion of the mod­ern Repub­lic.

“In the tu­mul­tuous pe­riod of the past cen­tury, ev­ery coun­try brought up lead­ers and sought lib­er­a­tion through them. Very few lead­ers met their coun­try’s de­sired vic­tory. There is no doubt that Atatürk is one of them,” Er­doğan said.

The pres­i­dent later crit­i­cized sev­eral ide­olo­gies and cliques, in­clud­ing the main op­po­si­tion CHP for try­ing to cap­i­tal­ize on Atatürk’s val­ues and goals, say­ing that af­ter his death, the CHP has changed its dis­course.

As the leader of the pro-Repub­lic First Group in the Grand Na­tional Assem­bly dur­ing the War of In­de­pen­dence be­tween 1919 and 1922, Atatürk was the chair­man of the CHP from its es­tab­lish­ment on Sept. 9, 1923, un­til his death in 1938.

In ad­di­tion to Ankara, hun­dreds of peo­ple gath­ered in front of Is­tan­bul’s Dolmabahçe Palace, where Atatürk had spent his fi­nal years and passed away.

In many cities in­clud­ing Is­tan­bul and Adana, hu­man “chains of re­spect” stretch­ing for kilo­me­ters were formed as peo­ple held hands to mark the 79th an­niver­sary. The chain of peo­ple in Adana trailed 14 kilo­me­ters.

Parachutists jumped with Turkish flags trail­ing, and in Toroslar, a dis­trict in the south­ern city of Mersin, 7,700 peo­ple came to­gether to form an im­age of Atatürk’s face.

Atatürk was born in 1881 in Thes­sa­loniki, Greece, which was then part of the Ot­toman Em­pire.

His dis­tin­guished mil­i­tary ca­reer in­cluded re­pelling the Al­lied in­va­sion of Gal­lipoli in 1915, and ral­ly­ing Turkey to with­stand the Al­lies’ at­tempt to carve up Turkey af­ter World War I in the War of In­de­pen­dence.

“The heroic Turkish Armed Forces, which hon­or­ably carry the torch of in­de­pen­dence and sovereignty that Atatürk lit, con­tinue their ded­i­ca­tion to fight against ev­ery kind of risk and threat,” Gen. Akar said in a state­ment pub­lished on­line.

As Turkey’s first pres­i­dent, he trans­formed the coun­try through a wide-rang­ing se­ries of mod­ern­iz­ing re­forms.

Peo­ple carry Turkish flags and pic­tures of Atatürk in front of his mauseloum, Anıtk­abir, Ankara, Nov. 10.

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