This is no ordinary celebration. Tonight, we are paying a well deserved homage to a world vision that withstood the test of time. A vision that endured a world war, a vision that was challenged by the rise & fall of regional and global political alliances, a vision that neighbored ever changing borders and never ending feuds and battles, a vision that favored world peace and happiness while in the midst of adversity.
Today, Ataturk’s ideals stand tall after 87 years for the simple fact that his vision matched the yearning. His promise of a new nation met a resounding support across the land where people were ready to give it all for the freedom of future generations.
Every long lasting nation is built on the common theme of a leader who has the wisdom to articulate the path to freedom and happiness for all and a nation with the courage and desire to march in tandem.
As we celebrate this momentous occasion here in the land of the free, I draw parallels in explaining the longevity of our nations. While Lincoln most eloquently delivered in his Gettysburg address the desire for the birth of a new freedom and a government of the people, by the people and for the people, Ataturk was equally unequivocal in his stance that sovereignty rests unconditionally with the nation.
Although much has been accomplished and we have much to be proud of, our mission is far from over. As we express our deepest gratitude to Ataturk for his infinite wisdom and to our ancestors for their unbreakable courage, we have to acknowledge that it is our time now. It is our intellectual calling to take on civic causes to advance Turkey’s rightful place among the leaders of the civilized world. It is our time to define the future in our own words and deeds, a future that secures another 87 years of a truly democratic and secular Turkey.
Cumhuriyet Bayramınız kutlu olsun.
Haluk Balkan, PhD