Character of Mustafa Kemal

Character of Mustafa Kemal
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Character of Mustafa Kemal

An incident in Damascus is a unique example of how Mustafa Kemal was a man of discipline and life. I heard this event from the late writer Cemil Süleyman 1 :

“When Mustafa Kemal was in Damascus, he was a soldier who liked to have fun as much as he was hardworking. He was loved and respected by everyone. Being able to attend the meetings where he was present was an unattainable opportunity for his friends. He would hardly ever leave me by his side. I played the oud well. He had a deep love for music. We often found ourselves in corners away from friends and strangers, where we ate, drank and had fun.

For a while, we chose one of the famous bars of Damascus as the most suitable place for entertainment. We used to come here, play, drink and have fun in the secluded and closed times of the bar. More precisely, we would voluntarily participate in this wish of Mustafa Kemal. There were complaints for a while, and when Mustafa Kemal heard this, he was very upset:

'It doesn't make much sense,' he said. What do they interfere with our free time, we go wherever we want, we have fun wherever we want.' He was right, Mustafa Kemal, who served with an unprecedented meticulousness in his military service, always rebelled against injustice. He was also angry at these rumors:

'Don't worry,' he said. The cat calls the liver that it cannot reach dirty.'

One day, during the daylight hours when the bar was closed to its customers, we sat in a corner of the bar and closed its doors. I was playing; coincidentally, a few of the bar women were also there. Since it was a hot day, Mustafa Kemal was sitting with his jacket on his shoulder. Suddenly, the door opened violently and shatteringly. Let's see, commander, his eyes were wide with anger, and the anger that was read on his face was terrible. We all stood up at once. He came right to Mustafa Kemal. Mustafa Kemal had gathered as much as he could, stood up and stood in a salute position.

The target was directly Mustafa Kemal. I was always looking at him sideways. Mustafa Kemal, like an officer on duty with an official ceremony, took the position of salutation in front of the commander, did not move and never showed the slightest sign of haste. It was clear that the commander was very, very angry. Even the sound of his breathing was so loud that it scratched his ears. He stopped in front of Mustafa Kemal. We all felt that a disaster was approaching. The commander was in the mood to slap, what would happen if he did? There was no way Mustafa Kemal could bear it. And it was expected that he would take immediate action against it. Disaster after that...

The commander did not do this. Because Mustafa Kemal's calm and proud stance seemed to destroy his anger in an instant. Despite this, consider how angry the commander was that he quickly pulled the jacket off Mustafa Kemal's shoulder and ripped off the epaulette that came to his hand.

Mustafa Kemal was still in a salutation position and did not move. This time the commander grabbed the button of the jacket and pulled it off with all his might. Later:

-'Does this move suit you?' yell. He turned and walked away with the same firm steps. He had just left the door when Mustafa Kemal smiled and said:

"You see," he said. 'How irrational and pointless they were.' He sat back in his chair and said:

-'After a while, his nerves will calm down and he will regret his action...' It wasn't really ten minutes before his aide came. He took Mustafa Kemal's jacket and brought it back with the epaulette and button sewn:

"The Commander is calling you," he said. The result was clear. The commander apologized to Mustafa Kemal in an appropriate language and expressed his regret for having done such an act. He also said a few words in the way of advice. After him, Mustafa Kemal became the apple of the eye of the commander as well as his friends.

That day taught us all a great lesson. Mustafa Kemal, who always rebelled against injustice, won the case again because he did not do the slightest act against military discipline and decency that day.” 2

1 Cemil Süleyman Alyanakoğlu, (1886-1940), Republican period story and novelist, Doctor.

2 Niyazi Ahmet Banoğlu, Nükte ve Fıkralarla Atatürk, Cilt I, İstanbul 1967, s. 52-54.

Source: Atatürk’ten Gençliğe Unutulmaz Anılar, Ahmet Gürel, Mayıs 2009  

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Character of Mustafa Kemal