“November 10 should never be a day of mourning. Let’s not forget that important people are remembered for their ideas, works, sacrifices and endeavors; not through mourning.” — Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, November 10, 2009
At precisely 9:05 on the morning of November 10th each year, life comes to a halt in Turkey. In cities across the country, Turks observe a moment of silence to remember the moment Mustafa Kemal Atatürk passed away in 1938 in Istanbul.
Atatürk—literally “Father of the Turks”, a title officially bestowed upon him in 1934—was Turkey’s George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and FDR all rolled into one. He commanded troops under the Ottoman Empire during World War I. Following the war, when it appeared foreign powers had usurped the Sultanate in all but name, Atatürk led the fight against Western invaders and created a new Turkish state, free of foreign influence. He stabilized the new nation of Turkey as its first President and introduced sweeping social and economic reforms during his 15 year presidency.
Memorials for Atatürk adorn not only Turkey, but even places as far-flung as Australia and New Zealand.
“Mankind is a single body and each nation a part of that body. We must never say ‘What does it matter to me if some part of the world is ailing?’ If there is such an illness, we must concern ourselves with it as though we were having that illness.”
— Mustafa Kemal Atatürk