‘Children of Turkish Republic’ express pride
On the 95th anniversary of the foundation of the Turkish Republic, centenarians, who are the same age as the Republic, are proud to live a free life under the shadow of the Turkish flag.
Some of those born in the same year as the proclamation of the Republic have posed for a special exhibition project put together by Anadolu Agency.
During photo shoots in eight Turkish cities, they said they were certain the Republic would last forever.
One of the residents of the almshouse in Istanbul, Ayşe Akbulut, was born in 1923 in the southern province of Kahramanmaraş, a city symbolic to the national struggle. Akbulut then immigrated to Istanbul and said he was very proud to be the same age as the Republic.
She said she had been very excited when she saw Mustafa Kemal Atatürk swimming.
Süleyman Koca from the southeastern of Gaziantep has five children and 32 grandchildren. He said he had lived a happy life in Turkey thanks to this regime.
Despite his old age, Koca meets many of his own needs. He has remarried since losing his wife 10 years ago. He is among those who have heard Atatürk’s speech live during his visit to Gaziantep.
Born in 1923 in the eastern province of Erzurum, Hediye Taş has four children and 13 grandchildren. She said her biggest regret in life was not learning how to read and write.
Another centenarian is Hüsmen Altınkaya, who migrated to Turkey from Bulgaria in 1989 with his wife and two sons. Altınkaya, 94, is living in the northwestern province of Kocaeli. His two sons have died and he has seven grandchildren. The municipality provides them with support.
Antalya resident Nigar Kiracıoğlu, 96, moved to Antalya from Rhodes with her family after the proclamation of the Republic.
“We used to celebrate Republican holidays in our childhood, and shouted saying, ‘long live the Republic’ and ‘long live justice’ in school celebrations. We embraced the Republic,” she said.
Mükerrem İçören was born in 1923 and is living on İzmir’s Social Life Campus. She said she had been born either the same day as the Republic or a day later.
“My mother did not remember the exact date but said there were celebrations that day. My ID was taken two months later. I am completely a woman of the Republic. We have gained many rights under the Republic. Women have received rights. I was bicycling 80 years ago as the daughter of a woman wearing a hijab. I received my driver’s license in 1954. Atatürk changed many things,” she said.
“It was a great pleasure for us. All roads were full of people. There was no place to throw a needle. I forgot everything else but I still remember the anthems we used to sing at that time. I used to read poems about Atatürk in the school,” said İçören, speaking of celebrities of the Republic from her childhood.
İçören said she saw Atatürk in İzmir during his visit and touched her cheek.
Today, Melahat Hapoğlu is 96 and her sister Nezahat Aksel is 94. The sisters were born in the Central Anatolian province of Sivas and are now living in Ankara. They say they are children of the Republic.
The sisters, who have worked in various regions of Turkey as civil servants, have been living at the Ankara 75th Year Nursing Home for 16 years.
İsmail Sarı, 95, said the Republic was very special for him.
“We are celebrating the [age of the] Republic as the children of Atatürk. We follow him [Atatürk] peacefully,” said Sarı.