May 19 Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day in Atatürk's Words: The Importance of Address to Youth

May 19, 1919, is known as the date that changed the fate of a nation and a country that was on the verge of destruction. This date, when Mustafa Kemal Atatürk set foot in Samsun and rebelled against imperialism, is also the actual beginning of the War of Independence. This special day, engraved in our history in an epic way, will later be gifted to Turkish youth by our Great Leader.

Atatürk's speeches and approach, which showed the value that he gave to young people, had a great impact on the identification of May 19 with Turkish youth. Let's examine in more detail how May 19 became a national holiday, how Atatürk's words were engraved in history and the importance of the Address to Youth.


Transformation of May 19 into Youth and Sports Day

May 19 was first celebrated in the young Republic of Turkey in 1926 under the name of Veteran's Day. This special day became official as Atatürk Day on May 24, 1935. May 19 is celebrated at Fenerbahçe Stadium with the participation of hundreds of athletes, especially athletes from Beşiktaş, Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray with the initiatives of Beşiktaş Gymnastics Club.

Shortly after this first May 19, which turned into a sports festival, a sports congress was held. Speaking at this congress, Ahmet Fetgeri Aşeni, one of the founders of Beşiktaş, demanded that May 19 Atatürk Day be celebrated by all youth. In this regard, he proposes that Atatürk Day be celebrated under the name of May 19 Youth and Sports Day from now on. This proposal, accepted at the congress, became a law with Atatürk's approval. It was named "Youth and Sports Day" by the law dated June 20, 1938.

In 1981, the name of Youth and Sports Day was changed once again. 1981 is considered the Year of Atatürk because it is the 100th anniversary of Atatürk's birth. Youth and Sports Day is changed to Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day.


Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's Speech on May 19 Engraved in History

May 19 is of particular importance for the Great Leader as well as for the Turkish nation. So much so that Mustafa Kemal Atatürk considers May 19 as his birthday. Atatürk's words both for May 19 and for the young people to whom May 19 is dedicated clearly express this importance.

  • Atatürk summarizes the importance of the moment he landed in Samsun clearly and strikingly: "May 19 is the beginning day of national sovereignty."
  • He does not hide that he is proud of Turkish youth: "Youth! Young people who undertake to realize my future ambitions! I am very pleased and happy that one day I will leave this country to a youth like you who understands me.”
  • He clearly states that he draws strength from Turkish youth: "I have no doubt that as long as we have young people like you, this country and nation will be able to achieve greater victories than those they have achieved so far."
  • According to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, not only himself but also the nation draws strength from youth: “Young people, all the hope and future of the country is tied to you, to the understanding and energy of the younger generations.”
  • He is confident that he will hand over the republic to reliable hands when the time comes: “A clean generation is growing from the heart of my nation. I will leave this work to them, and I will not be left behind.”
  • Atatürk expressed that the support he received from the people gave him strength when he went to Samsun: "When I saw Samsun and its people, I once again strongly believed that all my visions and decisions regarding the country and the nation could be fulfilled." "The patriotism and sacrifice I saw in the behavior and situation of the people of Samsun and read in their eyes were enough to lead my hopes and visions to a positive belief." 


We Understand Better Each Year: The Importance of Addressing Youth

May 19 goes down in history as the last national holiday declared an official holiday with the signature of Atatürk. However, unfortunately, Atatürk did not live to watch the Youth and Sports Day, which was officially celebrated for the first time in 1939. Although Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was very ill on May 19, 1938, he watched the ceremony at the Ankara Stadium and was in front of the young people he valued very much for the last time.

The Great Leader ends his Speech, in which he describes in his own words the activities carried out starting from his arrival in Samsun on May 19, 1919, until 1927 with the Address to Youth, in which he addresses the Turkish youth. Address to Youth is important as it is a guide that enlightens today from a century ago. He also describes the Republic, which he calls his greatest work, as follows: “Oh Turkish Youth! Your first duty is to forever preserve and defend Turkish independence and the Turkish Republic.”  The fact that he entrusted the youth with his words shows how much he trusts the Turkish youth.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk ends the warnings he made throughout the Address to Youth with words that clearly show that he trusts Turkish youth:

“O child of the Turkish future! Even in these situations and circumstances, your assignment is to recover the Turkish independence and republic. The power you need is in the sublime blood inside your veins.”