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Sunday, 25 September 2011

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

In 1893, Mustafa Atatürk (1881-1938) entered a military high school where his mathematics teacher gave him the second name Kemal (meaning perfection in Turkish) in recognition of young Mustafa's superior achievements.

In 1915, when the Dardanelles/Galipoli campaign was launched, Kemal, recently promoted to Colonel, became a national hero by winning successive victories against the landing British French and ANZAC armies, pinning them down at their beachheads, which finally forced the invaders to evacuate Galipoli in January 1916.

When Turkey became a republic on October 29, 1923 Kemal was the first president.

Kemal ruthlessly set out to Westernize the republic he had established. European dress was imposed, polygamy was abolished, women were enfranchised and the Latin script replaced the Arabic.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's stay at Atatürk Museum Mansion in Ankara between 1921 and 1932 was his longest at any place in his life.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

In 1934, when the surname law was adopted making all Turks assume surnames, the national parliament gave him the name "Atatürk" (Turkish for Father of the Turks).

A heavy drinker most of his life, developed liver and kidney problems during the last year of his life. He died on November 10, 1938, at age 57.

Atatürk's state funeral took place twice, once immediately after his death in 1938 and then again in 1953 when his remains were transferred to a mausoleum that overlooks Ankara.

Atatürk statues have been erected in all Turkish cities by Turkish Government, and most towns have their own memorial to him.

His portrait can be seen in all public buildings, in all schools and classrooms, on all school books and on all Turkish lira banknotes.

At the exact time of his death, on every November 10th, at 09:05 am, most vehicles and people in the country's streets pause for one minute in remembrance.

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