The day commemorates the start of Turkey’s War of Independence and sees young people stage sporting and cultural activities.
ISTANBUL (AA) - Nationwide celebrations took place on Thursday to mark May 19 Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day, which also marks the beginning of Turkey’s War of Independence.
May 19, 1919 was the day Mustafa Kemal, later to become Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, arrived in the Black Sea city of Samsun from Istanbul to organize the war that saw the remnants of the Ottoman Empire transformed into modern Turkey four years later.
Today the day is marked around Turkey as Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day, a national holiday that sees young people stage sporting and cultural activities.
Sports Minister Akif Çağatay Kılıç laid a wreath at Anıtkabir, Atatürk’s Mausoleum overlooking the capital Ankara.
In a memorial message, Kılıç wrote: "We are in the presence of Great Mustafa Kemal Atatürk on the 97th anniversary of May 19 Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day. The independence struggle which started on this day in Samsun has proved that our land cannot be invaded."
The Istanbul province’s Sports Department also celebrated the day in the city's iconic Taksim Square.
A group from the department observed a minute of silence and sang the national anthem as well as performing Turkish folk dances.
*Anadolu Agency correspondent Burcu Arik contributed to this story from Istanbul.