At 9:05AM this Saturday, November 10th, the Turkish nation will pause to remember Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of Turkey as we know it. Traffic will stop, horns will honk, and people will halt their activities as they mark the anniversary of the death of the “father of the Turks.”
One first encounters the name of this revered man upon arriving at Istanbul’s Atatürk International Airport. However, it isn’t long before you’ll come across photos of this charismatic man in places of business and homes.
Born Mustafa Kemal in 1881 – the name ‘Atatürk,’ meaning ‘father of the Turks,’ was gifted uniquely to him in 1934 – Atatürk was a military hero from World War I and later the leader of the war for independence. Following World War I when the Ottoman Empire toppled, Turkey was shared between France, Greece, and Great Britain. Atatürk rallied a national resistance against the foreign occupiers and, on August 30th, 1922, three years after the war for independence had begun, freedom was won. Atatürk, or just Mustafa Kemal at the time, was elected the first President of the new Republic created after the war.
A reformer, Atatürk went on to establish a secular state that westernized clothing in place of the men’s traditional tasseled hat and women’s veils; gave women the same rights as men, including the right to vote and hold political office; and promoted education for all, just to name a few of the changes he implemented.
Atatürk is a political and historical figure about whom I have not yet heard one negative thing said. There seems to be an overwhelmingly positive feeling about him here in Turkey.
Not a small feat for a politician.
Which does not lead me to open the Pandora’s box of discussion of politics and the recent US election.
Although I will throw out one suggestion: how about trading in the concept of lifetime career politicians for one of great leaders / minds who do a stint in politics (i.e. temporary) as a kind of ‘community service’?
OK, let me drag myself out of the realm of fantasy and back to reality.
Because I had a fantastical experience the other day when our dog group went on a different walking tour than our normal forest route. Since pictures speak more eloquently than words, here are a few:
Beach. Sun. Warm weather. In November.
Now, I am in fantasy land.