April 23, 2017 , Washington, DC | On the occasion of the 97th anniversary of April 23rd Turkish National Sovereignty and Children’s Day, the Assembly of Turkish American Associations congratulates all children and the Turkish American community.
“Little women, little men! Each one of you is a star, a ray of light, a rose of the future! It is you who will bathe the country in light! Never lose sight in your striving of how important and valuable you are. We are expecting great things of you.”
97 years ago, on April 23, 1920, the Republic of Turkey Grand National Assembly was officially established. The great Turkish leader, Kemal Atatürk, dedicated that day to the future of the country – to its children. April 23 became a national holiday widely celebrated by children as well as adults.
It is now a custom in Turkey for children to nominate their representatives to replace state officials and high-ranking bureaucrats in their offices on April 23. So, each year, for one day, the Turkish President, Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers, and provincial governors turn over their portfolios to the Turkish children. The children also replace the parliamentarians in the Grand National Assembly and hold special sessions to discuss matters of importance to them. One wonders whether we would have less hatred and violence in this world if children determined state policies for the rest of the year.
The children are indeed our future. As Turkish Americans, it is our responsibility to raise our children with a sense of pride in their heritage. It is our duty to teach them Turkish history, culture, and language, so that they may truly grasp what it means to be a Turkish American. It is also our responsibility to ensure that, as Turkish Americans, they understand the importance of a strong relationship between the United States and Turkey, and they, as citizens of the United States, grow up being aware and taking advantage of democracy and freedom of speech in this great country.
ATAA extends its wishes of peace and happiness to all the children of the world.