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MUSTAFA KEMAL ATATURK

" There are two Mustafa Kemals. One is the flesh-and-bone Mustafa Kemal who now stands before you and who will pass away. The other is you, all of you here who will go to the far corners of our land to spread the ideals which must be defended with your lives if necessary. I stand for the nation's dreams, and my life's work is to make them come true."  

Atatürk stands as one of the world's few historic figures who dedicated their lives totally to their nations.

He was born in 1881 (probably in the Spring) in Selanik, then an Ottoman city, now in Greece. His father, Ali Riza, a customs official turned timber merchant, died when Mustafa was still a boy. His mother, Zubeyde, a devout and strong-willed woman,

 raised him and his sister. First enrolled in a traditional religious school, he soon switched to a modern school. In 1893, he entered a military high school where his mathematics teacher gave him the second name Kemal (meaning "perfection") in recognition of young Mustafa's superior achievement. He was thereafter known as Mustafa Kemal.

In 1905, Mustafa Kemal graduated from the Military Academy in Istanbul with the rank of Staff Captain. Posted in Damascus, he started, with several colleagues, a clandestine society called "Homeland and Freedom" to fight against the Sultan's despotism. Mustafa Kemal's career flourished as he won fame and promotions because of his heroism in the farflung corners of the Ottoman Empire, including Albania and Tripoli. He also briefly served as a staff officer in Selanik and Istanbul and as a military attache in Sofia.

When the Dardanelles campaign was launched in 1915, Colonel Mustafa Kemal became a national hero by winning successive vistories and finally repelling the invaders. Promoted to general in 1916, at age 35, he liberated two major provinces in eastern Antalia that year. In the next two years, he served as commander of several Ottoman armies in Palestine and Aleppo, achieving anotherr major victory by stopping the enemy advance at Aleppo.


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