Turkey on Wednesday celebrated the Commemoration of Ataturk, Youth and Sports Day, a milestone day for the beginning of Turkey’s War of Independence.
May 19, 1919 was the day when Mustafa Kemal Ataturk – later founder of the Turkish Republic – arrived in the Black Sea city of Samsun from Istanbul to launch the war that four years later transformed the nation into modern Turkey.
With a delegation, Mehmet Muharrem Kasapoglu, Turkey’s youth and sports minister, laid a wreath at Anitkabir, Ataturk’s mausoleum in the capital Ankara, and then observed a moment of silence and sang the national anthem.
In a memorial message, Kasapoglu wrote: "With honor, we carry the spirit of independence that opened the door to the foundation of our republic 102 years ago. This spirit guides us in the universal values that Turkey has and will add to humanity."
He went on to say: "We are grateful to you for this special day as a gift to our young people."
With pandemic measures limiting visitors for the holiday, Kasapoglu brought a photo of young people carrying Turkish flags, athletes from all 81 of Turkey’s provinces, and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
Later, he celebrated the day with members of the public who came to visit Anitkabir.
Istanbul, Northern Cyprus
Separately, the Istanbul province’s Sports Department also celebrated the day in the city's iconic Taksim Square.
People observed a minute of silence and sang the national anthem.
Also 102 cyclists rode bicycles in Istanbul to mark the day in Istanbul.
The holiday was also celebrated in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
A lantern procession will be held this evening as a part of activities in the capital Lefkosa.
Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay also took part in an online meeting held by the National Education Ministry at the Presidential Complex with the participation of high school students from throughout Turkey.
Oktay told the young people that determination "can make your dreams a reality, and that if you believe and work, you can succeed."
Ataturk dedicated May 19 to the youth of the Turkish nation as Youth and Sports Day – a national holiday that sees young people take part in sporting and cultural activities with official ceremonies across the country.