Happy Republic Day

An anthem was being paraded around the streets of Istanbul on this fresh fall day… with tunes echoing through the alleys and penetrating the glass windows, well, there was simply too much excitement going on for this Turkish student to stay indoors studying. Throwing books aside, I wandered outside to be part of the action. Passing under strewn banners glorifying Ataturk, the man we’ve come to call ‘the face of Turkey’, I followed the bold trail of red and yellow flags which lead me to the source of the music’s echoes. Assembled in our square was an army of a band, standing proud and respectful, wooing the crowd and commemorating the holiday with a rich melody. Chills running up and down, I let the musical experience wash over me, appreciating the fervor with which they remembered the day Mustafa Kemal declared Turkey a republic.

Chills again resurfaced as I stood at the Bosphorus’s bank, watching explosions of fireworks go off over the water, soaring above the bridge linking Asia with Europe. Tonight, all of Istanbul’s eyes were on the skies. None of us wanted it to end. But when the finale began, deafening cheers erupted as fireworks formed the shapes of turkey’s moon and star. Hooting and hollering along with the Turks, clicking my camera; nothing could capture the passion piercing the air in those last moments. The rain accompanied the end of the dazzling display, falling on all of us as if to say, “now go! live!” Slowly, gawkers began inching their way home. Turkey’s triumphant march continued to rumble among the people’s voices, all resounding in agreement.

My Republic, My Republic,

We your people prosper,
Your name we do not forget.
Under your wings, our salvation lies,
Under your wings, we are born and die.
You are a loving mother,
You are our happiness,
The love in our hearts for you,
Forever will endure, thus,
My Republic will endure, forever

—Sabri Cemil Yalkut



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