Every 19 May, Turkey combines the memory of the founder of the modern independent and secular state and the love of youth and sports into one celebration.
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On Youth and Sports Day there are numerous sports events held and attended by great masses throughout the country. And there are also patriotic ceremonies and a focus on independence leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
About 10 days before 19 May, a marathon run by young athletes who carry Turkey’s flag begins at the Black Sea port of Samsun. That was the city were Ataturk’s independence movement began. The flag is run up to Ankara, the capital city, and given to the president on Turkey on 19 May.
There are also smaller marathons that everyone is allowed to run in, along with other sports competitions open to the general public.
Some observe 19 May as if it were Ataturk’s birthday, though his real day of birth is unknown. Wreaths are hung at Ataturk monuments and flags drape buildings throughout the land.