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Memorable Encounters with Atatürk

Gönül Bakay and Leyla Pekcan

The book is a collection of memoirs related to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The recollections of 27 people who met Atatürk in person reflect the environment in which they grew up. The accounts of their childhood during the founding period of the Turkish Republic provide a wealth of information enabling historians to reconstruct how the perception of Atatürk was transformed during a time of profound political change.

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“My name is Macide” (Macide Tanır)


Macide Tanır

“My name is Macide”

In this photograph with Atatürk, little Macide was five years old. We lived in Pendik then. At the Community Center, they chose me to be among the children who were to meet Atatürk. They gave me a written welcome message to memorize and recite for him. That was in 1929.

Macide Tanır

Atatürk travelled on a white train in those days. I was fortunate as a little girl to see him on his way from Istanbul to Ankara. The mayors of the towns where his train would stop would be notified ahead of time, according to Atatürk’s itinerary. Preparations were made and everyone waited for his arrival. So I memorized the speech I was given and started to wait for him. The train arrived and I ran up to him and I started my recitation. Of course, I don’t recall how much of the speech I was really able to recite, because I was so excited; I was trembling all over. Even today, as I recall those moments, I still get excited. My little heart was pounding in those moments when I looked at his eyes. You can see from my facial expression in the photograph how overwhelmed I←199 | 200→ was. Feeling shy, excited, and fearful, I rested my head on Atatürk’s chest and remained like that for some time.

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