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    National celebrations mark Turkey's 1919 War of Independence

    Hurriyet English
    19.05.2008 - 11:24 | Son Güncelleme:

    In Turkey, May 19 marks the anniversary of the day Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, landed in Samsun in 1919 to launch the national independence struggle. The day is celebrated nationally as "Commemoration of Ataturk, Youth and Sports Day." (UPDATED)

    Thousands of students participated in the organized celebrations with displays of folk and modern dancing, marching and acrobatics, performed at stadiums and schools around the country. During the celebrations students showed their support for the implementation of Turkey's public smoke ban, which came into force on Monday.  

    Senior Turkish statesmen, led by President Abdullah Gul, visited on Monday Anitkabir, the mausoleum of Ataturk, founder of the Republic of Turkey, in Ankara on the occasion of the May 19 national celebrations. 

    In the official ceremony, Gul laid a wreath at the mausoleum and then wrote in the Anitkabir visitor's commemorative book. 

    Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan, Chief Judge of the Constitutional Court Hasim Kilic, Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Chairman Deniz Baykal, opposition Nationalist Movement Party Chairman Devlet Bahceli, ministers and other high level officials were in attendance at the ceremony.

    Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was unable to attend the ceremony due to an eye problem, the Prime Ministry's press office said in a statement. Erdogan was represented by State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek.

    On May 19, 1919, Ataturk landed in the Black Sea port of Samsun at the start Turkey's "War of Independence" (May 19, 1919-October 29, 1923), which refers to the political and military resistance developed by Turkish revolutionaries against the Allied partitioning of the Ottoman Empire after its defeat in World War I.

    Ataturk dedicated May 19, the commencement of Turkey's struggle for independence, to the country's youth and since then, it has been celebrated as "Youth and Sports Day" wherever Turks reside.

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