Today, we respectfully commemorate the 104th anniversary of the Battle of Çanakkale/Gallipoli as a great national victory; the day allied warships were repelled by the courage and sacrifice of the Turkish gunners and foot soldiers at the Çanakkale/Gallipoli fortifications. The battle lasted two years claiming the lives of over 70 thousand British, Australian, French, New Zealand and Indian troops on one side, and over 60,000 Ottoman soldiers on the other side.

The British invasion of Çanakkale/Gallipoli at the westernmost point of the Ottoman Empire occurred at the same time as the Russian invasion of Eastern Anatolia. Between 1915 and 1922, over three million Ottoman Muslims and Jews were killed and displaced in concurrent Greek, French, and Italian invasions of Western and Southeastern Anatolia. Over 1.1 Million Ottoman Muslims and Jews were massacred and displaced in the Armenian revolts that facilitated the Russian invasion.

Under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, a young and brilliant army officer then, the Çanakkale/Gallipoli was considered by many to be the beginning of the Turkish Independence War, which marked the awakening of the Turkish nation changing the world’s history forever.

The Çanakkale/Gallipoli was more than a victory against foreign occupation. It provided the necessary confidence for the citizenry of Anatolia to commence the Turkish Independence War, which marked the end of the imperial dynasty and theocratic order of the 700-year Ottoman Era, and led to the creation of a Turkish Republic in 1923 based on secular democracy, plural society, gender equality, and universal human rights.

On this special day, let’s all take a moment to honor the martyrs and veterans who fought for Turkey’s independence valiantly and selflessly so that we may enjoy the freedom we treasure today.