Türkiye commemorated the 84th anniversary of the passing of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the leader of the country’s War of Independence and founder of modern Türkiye, with the nation flocking to his mausoleum, Anıtkabir, in the capital Ankara and Dolmabahçe Palace, where he passed away in Istanbul in 1938.
As is customary, daily life stopped at 9:05 a.m. local time, sirens wailed to mark the exact moment of Atatürk’s death at the age of 57 and millions of people across the country observed two minutes of silence.
Somber ceremonies were held, wreaths were laid at the monuments, honoring the leader across the country.
All vehicles stopped on the three bridges of Istanbul and drivers got out for a standstill at 9:05 a.m. to show respect to the leader.
Long lines of tearful mourners paid their respects at Atatürk’s mausoleum in Ankara and the Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul.
Thousands took to the streets of all 81 provinces, with some wearing t-shirts bearing Atatürk photos, waved flags and commemorated the founding leader early Nov. 10.
An official ceremony was held at Anıtkabir in the capital Ankara. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and a delegation, including Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop as well as leaders of opposition parties, attended the event where a wreath was laid at his grave.
Erdoğan also left a written message on the book of commemoration to pay tribute to Atatürk.
“Holy Atatürk, on the 84th anniversary of your death for eternity, we once again commemorate your honor, your heroic comrades in arms and our martyrs who defended our independence at the expense of their lives. We will not stop until the centuries-old dreams of our nation come true, we will not give up in the face of attacks, and we will continue our struggle with determination.”
Şentop also issued a message for the anniversary of the passing of Atatürk.
“We commemorate the first president of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, the commander-in-chief of our national struggle, our first president, Gazi [Veteran] Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, with mercy and gratitude, on the 84th anniversary of his death.”
Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, non-governmental organizations, representatives of political parties and students attended the commemoration ceremony held in Taksim Square.
After the wreaths were laid on the Republic Monument, the citizens gathered around it and observed a minute’s silence.
In Maltepe district, hundreds of citizens formed a meters-long “chain of respect for the Ata [Father]” with flags in their hands.
Professional divers, consisting of 20 people, came to the surface at 9:05 a.m. with a banner with Atatürk’s eyes and a Turkish flag.
Also, a commemorative concert was held in the Presidential Concert Hall in the capital Ankara.
Some Turkish citizens showed their love for Atatürk by visiting the house in the Greek city of Thessaloniki where he was born in 1881, which was then part of the Ottoman Empire.
The occupancy rate of the ferry service launched between the western province of İzmir and Thessaloniki reached 70 percent for the Nov. 8 expedition, the last before the commemoration.
Commemoration messages also poured in from celebrities. “I comemorate the great Atatürk with love and respect. Atatürk, the great visionary raised by this land, our source of inspiration for generations. You are in my heart,” famous comedian Cem Yılmaz said in a Twitter post.
“My dear Atatürk. You are always very precious. I comemorate you with gratitude and longing,” said actress Gülşen Bubikoğlu.
“We commemorate the great leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk with love, respect and gratitude on the 84th anniversary of his departure,” famous pop star Ajda Pekkan wrote.
Atatürk was born in 1881 in Thessaloniki. His military education started in 1893 when he was enrolled in a military school in the Greek city.
He made his mark in the military in 1915 when he led forces to repel the allied invasion in Çanakkale, known in the West as the Dardanelles.
Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, Atatürk led the Turkish War of Independence, which defeated European powers. When he became president, Atatürk transformed the former empire into a modern and secular country.