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Turkey Proud History

Turkey has a Proud History

“The Turkish flag is red because that is the color of blood of the people who died for Turkey,” my Couchsurfing host in Ankara spoke to me with a slight amount of vehemence as we drank a few beers in his living room.

“Ok,” was the only response that I could muster.

I have known Turks to be a proud sort of people who tend to feel a deep connection to their history, and there was no way that I wanted to challenge this.

“Do you know Ataturk?” my host continued.


“What do you know about Ataturk?”

I was being set up.
Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
in Ankara, Turkey- March 21, 2009
Travelogue Travel Photos –Travel Guide

In travel, it is often a good idea to not talk about national heroes, politics, religion, or anything else that has an almost tribal code of belief attributed to it. In Turkey, it is best not to talk about Ataturk.

Ataturk is the hero of the Turkish people. This is OK by me. If someone finds pride in a military general, a political leader, a king, or an old boot, it is not my position to tell them otherwise. If someone can attach a sense of pride to themselves from their cultural lineage then good on them.

I like cultures that have character. I like places that are different than where I came from and people who are different than myself. I only run into difficulties when I am in conversation with people who tend to be a little overly sensitive about their beliefs, when people take my simple questions as insults.

It is often best not to question tribal beliefs.

Why? Because that is just the way that it is.

I have nothing bad to say about Ataturk, but it seemed as if my host was prompting me. I know very little about the Ataturk or what he did. So, as I was having this conversation, I figured that I would ask some questions and learn a little about the man who is the national hero of Turkey.

“I understand that Ataturk saved Turkey,” I began, “But what did he do? How did he save Turkey? What would Turkey be like now without Ataturk.”

“I mean no offense,” my host began, “but you can never understand this, we were born with this, you will never understand.”

He was correct.

“The Turkish flag is red with the blood of the martyrs, you will never understand.”

My simple questions were taken as insults. By asking about one of the well springs of Turkish pride, my host became overly sensitive. An outsider questioning the roots of Turkish identity was a tightrope that could only snap.

Turkey has a Proud History

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Filed under: Eastern Europe, Europe, Turkey

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 80 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3170 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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