It's a city that I studied in and I remember those old days when we had to spend hours rehearsing for the activities we would perform on May 19. We practiced in the days leading up to May 19 and of course on the day itself. For those of you who still do not know what significance May 19 holds, it is the Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day. May 19 is a holiday for which all official offices and schools are closed, but, in the past, no student ever really had the chance to enjoy this day as a holiday.
Until this year, May 19 ceremonies were performed in stadiums by thousands of students. All healthy and strong students marched and put on what were at times extreme shows. In many ceremonies, students performed in parades with military-like discipline, and these marches were repeated every year. The mindset visible in those practices was reminiscent of the parades performed in totalitarian states. These parades had been performed as an impersonation of the Soviet Komsomol or of Mussolini's youth branches.
Having said that, please read the following sentence before writing a comment that begins with “how dare you.” I am not saying that these holiday displays were the product of a totalitarian regime in Turkey coming out of the early years of the republic, but they were strongly influenced by a Soviet mindset. It makes absolutely no sense for children to gather in stadiums to perform various shows accompanied by nationalist slogans. May is a month during which school lectures get harder, and students were wasting time preparing for these parades weeks in advance. Similar scenes can be seen only in non-democratic countries, such as North Korea, Russia and China. It is like Victory Day in the USSR. It was quite useful to end these ceremonies that had been handed down by totalitarian regimes.
With a new regulation published in the Official Gazette, it was decided that the ceremonies of May 19 for the Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day will be performed at a stadium only in the capital of Ankara and, in the rest of the country, ceremonies will only be held in schools. That is indeed fantastic. We still have the spirit of May 19, but students will not have to spend their holiday at a stadium standing for long hours.
Turkey is in a period of considerable transition. It was necessary to make amendments to legislation for the official observance of a holiday. Many government agencies are being reorganized as a result. I would even say these amendments have come late.
Finally, the change in legislation concerning the celebration of May 19, the Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day, has not been repealed. The amendment only relates to the manner of celebration. I feel that some people will say the government is doing this in an attempt to erase traditions stemming from the early years of the republic. This is absolutely not so. This is a good step towards a more convenient life.
I am not even going to delve into the discussion of what happened on May 19 and how history has been written. Those who are interested can read the books of Ali Satan for an explanation of these events.
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