Turkey marks Youth and Sports Day
Turkish president commemorates all heroes of Turkish War of Independence, 'first and foremost' Ghazi Mustafa Kemal Ataturk
Turkey marked the Commemoration of Ataturk, Youth and Sports Day on Tuesday by remembering the country’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and the “heroes of the War of Independence”.
“I congratulate the May 19 Commemoration of Ataturk, Youth and Sports Day of our youth and cherished nation, and I commemorate with respect all the heroes, first and foremost Ghazi Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, of our War of Independence," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Twitter.
Erdogan, along with the tweet, also shared a photograph of Ataturk and citizens with the Turkish flag in the background.
In a separate statement Monday, Erdogan said: "May 19, the beginning of our march towards an independent and prosperous future, was the day when our august nation declared to the entire world that it would neither abandon its freedom nor go under the tutelage of anyone under any circumstances, and that it would unconditionally protect its free will."
He said stadiums across Turkey would be illuminated at 7.19 p.m. local time (1619GMT) and the Turkish national anthem would be broadcast to mark the occasion.
He called on Turkish citizens to sing along from their balconies or windows.
On Tuesday evening, he sang the national anthem at the designated time with Turkish citizens.
Turkish First Lady Emine Erdogan also celebrated the occasion on Twitter.
“I congratulate our nation's May 19 Commemoration of Ataturk, Youth and Sports Day, and I believe that our young people will carry our country to a bright future with the same national struggle,” she wrote on Twitter.
Separately, Youth and Sports Minister Mehmet Kasapoglu attended a ceremony to mark the occasion at Anitkabir, the mausoleum of Ataturk, in the capital Ankara.
Kasapoglu along with a delegation -- in accordance with social distancing rules -- laid a wreath on the mausoleum, observed a moment of silence and sang the national anthem.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu released a statement to mark the day.
Humanity will set out on a new and more accurate path after the coronavirus pandemic, Soylu said.
“But we started on this path 101 years ago, and we are walking together on this path obstinately,” he added.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca marked the occasion with a statement on Twitter, describing May 19, 1919 as the “actual start of the national struggle.”
Meanwhile, a total of 210 bicycles -- gifted by the president for children whose families registered under social assistance and solidarity foundations -- were distributed in Istanbul.
May 19 is a milestone in Turkish history, the day when Ataturk arrived in the Black Sea city of Samsun from Istanbul in 1919 to launch the war that transformed the nation into modern Turkey four years later.
Ataturk 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 with official ceremonies organized across the nation.
This year, due to the pandemic, Turkey is celebrating May 19 with virtual events.
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