Turkey marks Youth and Sports Day, commemorates Atatürk
“I celebrate the May 19 Commemoration of Ataturk, Youth and Sports Day of our youth and cherished nation, and I respectfully commemorate with respect all the heroes, first and foremost Ghazi Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, of our War of Independence,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Twitter on May 19 marking the national day.
Erdoğan, along with the tweet, also shared a photograph of Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and citizens with the Turkish flag in the background.
Erdoğan met with young people via teleconference as the country stays indoors due to the coronavirus outbreak. Erdoğan said he believes in Turkey’s youth.
“We will not bow to street terror as we have not to separatist terrorism. City bandits will never prevail. No one will be able to sow discord among the young people of this country,” he said.
“Turkey is growing, developing, getting stronger. Our country is building its future, inspired by the past. Despite the obstacles, sabotages and betrayals, we walk with determination on this blessed journey. Our biggest source of trust are you, young people,” he stated.
May 19 is a milestone in Turkish history as it is the day when Atatürk arrived in the Black Sea province of Samsun from Istanbul to organize the war that saw the remnants of the Ottoman Empire transformed into modern Turkey four years later.
Atatürk dedicated May 19 to the youth of the Turkish nation as Youth and Sports Day, a national holiday that sees young people stage sporting and cultural activities and official ceremonies organized across the nation.
May 19 is the beginning of a movement that turned into a resurrection epic and victory with the courage and heroism of the noble nation of Turkey said Turkish Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop. “But the march that started that day is not a process that ended in a certain period of history. To commemorate May 19, 1919, is to declare the attitude of our saint nation to everybody in the face of similar dangers and threats,” he said in a written statement.
In his national day message, Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu criticized the government for not managing the economy of the country well, but expressed optimism for the future of Turkey with solidarity.
“In the days when COVID-19 epidemic disease is experienced, we are faced with the economic crisis caused by the [presidential] palace as well as health problems. But remember, the Republic of Turkey is a big state. In light of intellect and science, there is no problem that we cannot overcome with strong social solidarity,” he said in a written statement.
Neither FETÖ, the PKK, nor any political actors linked to these illegal groups will be able to harm Turkey’s historical rights, independence and future, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli said in a written statement.
“May 19, 1919, is a history above politics. It cries out to our nation in joy and grief, today and tomorrow that we are partners and that our hearts are beating together. Let’s not forget that we are on the same ship at every moment and condition,” Leader of İYİ (Good) Party Meral Akşener said.
Traditional celebrations this year are replaced with those conducted from home under a four-day curfew in some cities due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. The Youth and Sports Ministry brought the joy and celebrations to houses with live television broadcasts this year.
Turkey’s Youth and Sports Minister Mehmet Kasapoğlu attended a ceremony to mark the occasion at Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of Atatürk in the capital Ankara. Kasapoğlu along with a delegation -- all in accord with social distancing rules -- laid a wreath on the mausoleum, stood for a moment of silence, and sang the national anthem.
National athletes gathering in the facilities of the ministry all over the country sang the Turkish National Anthem at 19:19 on the 101st anniversary of May 19. Turkey’s flagship carrier Turkish Airlines made a historical flight from Istanbul to Samsun, where the National Struggle began.
Turkish Airlines has created commemorative tickets for those wanting to board the “TK1919,” in reference to the beginning of the national struggle, with people signing up for the event exceeding 2.5 million so far. Air Sports Federation of Turkey organized demonstrations within the scope of air sports celebrations.
More than 500 athletes in gyrocopter, model aircraft, paramotor, paragliding and sailing wing branches participated in the events held in many cities.