While some welcome the move, saying ceremonies of May 19, the anniversary of the beginning of the War of Independence, were doing great harm to the nation’s youth and making them hate such days, others find the ministry’s move an unnecessary one.
Star’s Sedat Laçiner explains how it is troublesome for students to prepare for the performances they display on national holidays such as April 23 Children’s Day, May 19 Youth and Sports Day and Oct. 29 Victory Day because these days mostly coincide with cold and rainy days when students tremble in the cold. Being one of those students who trembled during April 23 ceremonies, Laçiner says as an adult, he can now watch those ceremonies from anywhere he wants but he still feels cold on every April 23.
“When I see little kids in stadiums waiting for their turn to perform as they tremble, I feel even colder,” he says. In his view, it is impossible for Turkey to integrate with the world when it still has such ceremonies. “Isn’t there something wrong with these ceremonies? Can’t these ceremonies be held indoors? Can’t there be documentaries and movies for children to watch on such days? Instead of expecting children to entertain adults in cold weather, can we not hold their hands and take them to a theater, a circus, a conference, a trip or a performance by professionals?” he asks.
In consideration of all these, Laçiner welcomes the cancellation of May 19 ceremonies in stadiums and voices his hope that this move will be the first step for more humane and lovely ceremonies that would not make Turkey’s children hate Atatürk and national values.
Another Star columnist, Mehmet Altan says that although we have been celebrating May 19 for years, none of us knows how and why this day was declared a national holiday. He says such national holidays are imposed by the state in accordance with the patterns of an authoritarian republic and are always celebrated in the same way, while the case in democratic nations is different. “Everything is transparent in democracies, and nations celebrate national holidays joyfully,” he says.
In this regard, he thinks both the Ministry of Education, which made a slight change in the way May 19 is celebrated, and the republicans who oppose the ministry’s move are far away from handling these ceremonies from the real perspective of the republic and democracy.
Milliyet daily’s Derya Sazak is at odds with other columnists. He thinks it was inappropriate for the Ministry of Education to cancel May 19 celebrations in stadiums at a time when there are many issues that need to be addressed by the ministry in question. He says that although Minister Ömer Dinçer talks about modern celebrations, which he says are more in line with the republic, he fails to explain what kind of celebrations they are. “Why did the ministry give priority to May 19 celebrations when it was expected to address problems faced by teachers waiting for appointment, exams and the quality of education?” he asks.