Today, on 19th of May is a national holiday in Turkey, Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day (Atatürk’ü Anma, Gençlik ve Spor Bayramı)
On the 19th of May 1919 the foundations of the new Turkish state were laid. Atatürk started the Great Speech with this event and marked his birthday as May 19.
In 1919 many regions of this country were occupied and the people began resisting strongly. Meanwhile, Mustafa Kemal Pasha was appointed to Samsun to inspect the armies stationed in the region. Mustafa Kemal set off aboard steamer SS Bandırma for Samsun on May 16, 1919. Arriving Samsun on 19 May 1919 as the inspector of the Ninth Army Troops , Mustafa Kemal Pasha began our Struggle of Liberation in Anatolia for an independent Turkish state. This struggle lasted until August 30, 1922 resulted in a great victory. In other words, May 19 is the day when the Turkish War of Independence started. With this day, a fully independent Turkish nation was saved from being kept captive.
In Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s opinion, May 19 was the date that the Republic of Turkey gained its independence. Therefore, to the persons asking his birthday, he always replied as 19 May 1919. In 1938, this special day was gifted to the youth to whom Atatürk entrusted our nation and who will keep it alive eternally. In order to always remember great leader Atatürk and show gratitude to him, its name was changed to The Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day in 1981.
On this day, most of the bussiness, public and administration buildings and schools are closed.
In the run-up to the May 19 celebrations, young Turkish athletes carry the national flag from Samsun, a Black Sea port from where Mustafa Kemal Atatürk started Turkey’s War of Independence in 1919, to Ankara, the country’s capital. The marathon usually takes about 10 days. The Turkish president accepts the flag at a ceremony on May 19.
Various sports events take place on May 19 throughout Turkey. Many people celebrate this day by watching athletes perform at their local stadiums or by participating in sports events that are open to the public, such as half-marathons. University students usually prepare special programs for their teachers and parents on this day.
Many Turks also observe May 19 as Atatürk’s birthday. Although the exact date of his birth is not known, Atatürk used to say he was born on May 19 (referring to his political career). Many people lay wreaths to Atatürk’s monuments and hang Turkish flags outside their windows.
Because of pandemic this year, most of the celebration is being cancelled, but still in his honor the Turkish national song are being heard all over the cities and flags are set at peoples windows, balconies and all the important public buildings.