May 19 marks a significant date in Turkish history. 102 years ago today, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the Founder of the Republic of Turkey and its first President, arrived in the port city of Samsun on the Black Sea coast of Turkey, launching the War of Independence against powers that had invaded Turkey at the end of World War I, repelling all foreign militia from Turkish soil. Thus began the transformation of Turkey into a progressive, secular and modern democracy. From that day forward, Turks became united, for the first time recognizing and celebrating their nationhood. As a reminder that the future of the Republic is entrusted in the youth, this day has so been named, “Youth and Sports Day.”
The Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA) remembers Atatürk’s message to the Turkish Youth, which he sent at the end of his famous, 36 hours long speech, “Nutuk”.
“I’d like to direct my last words specifically to the youngsters of our homeland. Turkish Youth! You add on to and carry on our confidence. With the discipline and virtue you gain, you’ll be the most valuable reflection of humanity, love of homeland, and freedom of opinion. You, arising new generation! The future is yours. We formed the Republic; you’ll make it live on…” M. Kemal Atatürk
The ATAA extends its best wishes to Turks and Turkish Americans, both at home and abroad, on this day of tribute to Atatürk and to the energy and optimism of youth everywhere.