Turkey is set to commemorate the 79th anniversary of the death of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the modern Republic of Turkey, on Nov. 10, with official and unofficial ceremonies across the country.
Thousands of people are expected to flock to Anıtkabir, Atatürk’s mausoleum in the capital Ankara, while local municipalities throughout the country also prepared day-long commemoration events.
Atatürk died on Nov. 10, 1938 at the age of 57 in Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul due to health problems. Sirens are sounded at 09:05 a.m., the exact time of his death, every Nov. 10, while flags fly at half-mast.
An official ceremony will be held in Anıtkabir, with the participation of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, as well as force commanders and other high-level state officials early in the day.
Erdoğan has released a statement to mark the day, saying that “Veteran Mustafa Kemal” is an esteemed leader and a heroic soldier praised by the entire world.
Akar also released a message to commemorate Atatürk, saying the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) is carrying the “torch of sovereignty and independence fired by Atatürk.”
He also noted that the TSK is continuing its struggle with determination and ambition for the security of Turkish soil and the peace of the region and the world “against all kinds of uncertainties, risks and threats.” Akar specifically referred to the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Syrian Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as examples of terror groups that the Turkish military is fighting.
“All kinds of threats and dangers directed at our country and people will definitely be destroyed with the struggle of our army, which gets its strength from our people’s love and trust,” he stated, also commemorating the fallen soldiers, village guards and those who died resisting the July 2016 coup attempt, widely believed to have been masterminded by the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen.
Two district heads of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Istanbul have pledged to personally transport those wishing to commemorate Atatürk to Anıtkabir.
Banners were also hung in Istanbul’s Beşiktaş and Şişli districts, saying buses will set out for Ankara late on Nov. 9.
“Şişli is going to Anıtkabir. All the people are invited,” the AKP’s banner in Şişli read.
Meanwhile, world-leading Silicon Valley technology and research entrepreneur Elon Musk visited Anıtkabir after meeting Erdoğan in Ankara late on Nov. 8.
Musk, founder of world-leading technology companies SpaceX, Tesla Inc., Nuralink and SolarCity, shared two photos on his Instagram account, with one showing himself and the other showing inside Anıtkabir.
“I placed the flowers. Three broken ribs. A pierced lung. And still he fought,” Musk wrote near the photo showing the flowers he laid on the mausoleum.
The photos were praised by hundreds of Turkish users and received over one million likes.
Atatürk was born in 1881 in the now Greek city of Thessaloniki, which was then part of the Ottoman Empire. He made his mark in the military in 1915 when he led Ottoman forces repelling the allied invasion of Çanakkale, known in the West as the Dardanelles.
Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, Atatürk led the Turkish War of Independence, which defeated European powers hoping to invade the crumbled empire. When he became president, Atatürk strived to transform the former empire into a modern, democratic and secular country.