Deeper than a dream, more than a victory. Unforgettable, invincible. Greatest of the great; the rebirth of a nation. The 29th of October, Republic Day, marks a milestone in the history of the Turkish nation. It causes us to reflect on how the Republic was built step-by-step, through the efforts of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and the valiant Turkish soldiers, like a towering structure built up from nothing.
Just before the foundation of the Turkish Republic, the Ottoman Empire had gone through many wars, which had left destruction behind. But some brave and open-minded politicians and soldiers, and also the citizens who backed them, knew that the collapse of an empire that had lasted more than six hundred years would not be the end of a nation’s existence.
The act that would save the land and maintain the existence of the nation was the Turkish War of Independence, to which the entire nation, both men and women, contributed, because they held liberty in high esteem.
The days were dark, the chances were limited, and the enemies were strong. But the hope and determination of the Turkish people were stronger. They thought about death, but not about giving up, and eventually, against all odds, victory followed upon victory. The formation of Turkish Republic was an epic, written by people who had no fear of death.
Our war of liberation came to an end with glory. The cooperation of the citizenry and the bravery of the army brought democracy and freedom to the Turkish nation. In 1920, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey was established. This was a preparatory step toward the declaration of a new system: a republic. On October 29, 1923, Turkey became the Turkish Republic, and finally this most democratic and worthy title was bestowed on the nation, earned by the great efforts of its citizens.
Incredible events followed the declaration of the Turkish Republic. This was the very first, and the greatest, innovation by Atatürk, implemented as soon as the War of Independence ended. Turkey was to become a democracy. With the establishment of the Republic and the following revolutions, we realized our common values, the things that made us a nation. Since the declaration of the Republic, we have become more independent and more spirited. We are more like ourselves.
Political, social, judicial and cultural reforms took place. Religious and reactionary institutions and practices were replaced by modern ones, such as contemporary education, a new calendar and new dress codes, the separation of religion and state affairs, and equality between women and men.
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and the first president of the Turkish Republic – in other words, modern Turkey – was not only a great leader but also a source of inspiration and a great soldier. Even under adverse circumstances, he did his best to encourage his soldiers and improve society so that it attained the attributes of the modern world.
As the youth of Turkey and as citizens who live under the roof of the Turkish Republic, we should have a mission: to protect our country from any and all threats and keep it strong forever. We should never forget about the ordeals of the past, and we should realize the significance of today’s conditions. We should remember, admire and honor our great ancestors, who provided an honorable pathway of life for us, and who saved our nation from perishing.
The 29th of October, Republic Day, was a reminder for us of Atatürk’s and his soldiers’ victories. We celebrate this day as the birthday
of the country, of the Turkish Republic. As we have for 94 years, we should celebrate this great gift given to us by our ancestors. We should decorate our homes, our streets. We should hold the Turkish flag high, higher than ever before. Every year, we should appreciate the Republic more.
I want to end my words with a quote from Atatürk: “How happy it is to say that I am a Turk!”