28 Eylül 2013 Cumartesi

American Flagpole at Ataturk's Tomb

flagpole links to shorter original article

(Hurriyet Newspaper, 27 September 2013)

//ed. note: herewith one of our occasional items about Turkish history.//

Flagpole's send-off in New York, 1946.

The flagpole mounted at Anitkabir in 1950 was removed
the day before yesterday after a ceremony. It will be replaced
by an identical 33-meter flagpole. The old one will be
exhibited horizontally at Anitkabir. Here is the interesting
story of the flagpole.

During the construction of Anitkabir (Ataturk's tomb) a
letter came to the Prime Minister's office from New York.
The letter came from the president of the American Flagpole
company, which made flagpoles for ships. His name was
William Johnson, but his original name was Nazmi Cemal,
a Turk.

Cemal had immigrated to the U.S. when he was 8 years old.
In his letter of 21 June 1945 he said:

"I am a citizen born in Macedonia under the Turkish flag and
raised with real Turkish breeding. With all my heart I am proud
of my Turkish heritage. Time and distance have not at all injured
the unshakeable love and respect I have for my homeland and my
Turkishness. Because I am bound with ties of deep love and respect
for Ataturk, I am determined to send to my homeland a flagpole
that I have had made especially by my experts and skilled engineers
to be planted at the blessed tomb of our Father where construction
is underway.  I have no motive other than to assist you and present
this gift to you assuming all expenses and insurance myself."

A ceremony was arranged in New York on 3 March 1946 before the
flagpole was sent to Turkey by ship. It arrived in Istanbul on
11 April 1946. A special effort was then undertaken to bring the
flagpole to Ankara and it was mounted in the spot where it stood
until the day before yesterday on 9 November 1950.

The flag on the pole would become quite heavy from wetness during
the winter months and wave with great force during storms, straining
the metal pole. This metal fatigue has been documented by ODTU
(Middle East Technical University).  Officials from Anitkabir have
had to place a brace around the flagpole to minimize the force of the
wind on it.

This flag is considered to be the number one flag of the Turkish Republic.
It is never lowered to half staff  for any reason other than 10 November
(Ataturk's death anniversary).  The flagpole is the longest one-piece steel
flagpole in Europe. It weighs five tons and four meters of the flagpole
are under its base.

The new flagpole that replaces Nazmi Cemal's will be the same in
appearance and size.  Anitkabir officials stated that "Anitkabir has a
historical value. Nothing used will be different from the original parts."
The new flagpole will be mounted before 29 October (Turkey's
independence day). In the interim a temporary flagpole has been put
in place.

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