Understanding Atatürk: Dispelling Misconceptions And Recognizing His Legacy – OpEd


Atatürk is an iconic figure of extraordinary importance, often subject to misconceptions and misunderstandings. It is crucial to understand his true nature and grasp the lasting impact he left on our nation.

1. The Superiority of Atatürk:

Atatürk was an exceptional individual, and comparing him to others would be unjust. His love for the homeland was unparalleled, and it’s essential to recognize that extraordinary individuals possess a deep sense of patriotism beyond ordinary standards.

2. The Birth of a Nation:

The idea of establishing a homeland was perceived differently during Atatürk’s time. Loving a homeland was a matter of significance because there was no concept of a nation to love. Instead, there existed a dark and divisive past rooted in the remnants of the Ottoman era. A homeland is not merely a heap of land; it is the embodiment of noble values. What were the values during Atatürk’s era? Essentially, there were none. There was a void. How can you love a void?

Atatürk aspired to create a nation rooted in humane values, where people could be loved. He succeeded significantly in this endeavor because exceptional individuals often become architects of values. A nation transforms from being a mere accumulation of land to a spiritual entity guided by ethical principles.

3. The Birth of Values:

It is vital to acknowledge many values that Atatürk introduced to our nation as previously nonexistent.

– The Republic, a crucial value, was absent before Atatürk.

– Secularism was not only a value but also the cornerstone and possibility for generating values, which didn’t exist before Atatürk.

– The Turkish language, a significant part of our national identity, was meticulously shaped by Atatürk. Before him, we didn’t have the Turkish we know today. We need to recognize that he initiated a period in which different sources in philosophy, physics, and various scientific fields were translated into Turkish.

– Furthermore, the role of women in society was fundamentally altered. In the past, women were held captive under the oppressive influence of religious dogma, seen solely as domestic entities associated with jihad and childbirth. Atatürk played a pivotal role in liberating women from these oppressive roles, elevating their status, and acknowledging their contributions to society.

Celebrating Atatürk’s legacy goes beyond honoring a historical figure. It involves understanding the transformation he introduced. These values did not exist before him and continue to shape the essence of our nation.

Happy 100th Anniversary of the Republic of Turkey!

Haluk Direskeneli

Haluk Direskeneli, is a graduate of METU Mechanical Engineering department (1973). He worked in public, private enterprises, USA Turkish JV companies (B&W, CSWI, AEP, Entergy), in fabrication, basic and detail design, marketing, sales and project management of thermal power plants. He is currently working as freelance consultant/ energy analyst with thermal power plants basic/ detail design software expertise for private engineering companies, investors, universities and research institutions. He is a member of Chamber of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.

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