19 May the Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day (Turkish: 19 Mayıs Atatürk’ü Anma ve Gençlik ve Spor Bayramı) or simply Youth Day (Gençlik Bayramı), is an annual Turkish national holiday celebrated on May 19 to commemorate Mustafa Kemal‘s landing at Samsun on May 19, 1919, which is regarded as the beginning of the Turkish War of Independence in the official historiography.
Mustafa Kemal’s landing at Samsun; Fahrî Yâver-i Hazret-i Şehriyâri Mirliva Mustafa Kemal Pasha was assigned as the inspector of the Ninth Army Troops Inspectorate on April 30, 1919 and left Constantinople (Istanbul) with his staffs aboard steamer SS Bandırma (see picture) for Samsun. After landing at Samsun on May 19, Mustafa Kemal and his staffs left there on May 24 for transferring their headquarters to the village of Karageçmiş in Havza district. According to Hamza Eroğlu, they sang “Dağ Başını Duman Almış” when they were marching from Samsun to Havza, according to Şevket Süreyya Aydemir, they sang this marching song also after leaving Havza to go to Amasya.
On May 19, 1936, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk made conversation with his close friends; Şükrü Kaya, Ruşen Eşref Ünaydın, Kılıç Ali, Salih Bozok, Mehmet Seydan, Nuri Conker in the Dolmabahçe Palace. Atatürk asked them “Do you know what today is?” They replied, “the third day of the occupation of Izmir“, “Ankara meeting”, “Ismet Pasha telegraphed from Lausanne“, “Golden Horn Conference“, “Turco-British negotiations over Iraq”, “Progressive Republican Party was banned” … even Atatürk’s close friends couldn’t remember Mustafa Kemal’s landing at Samsun.
Atatürk said “Let them in hell. So…this is something that, this is the liberation of country. Still they cannot find. Since after all Şükrü Kaya said “Is this day when you left Istanbul?”, Atatürk said “You came closer…the day we landed at Samsun.” And then Atatürk said “Actually this is the festival that you’ll celebrate.” Next year, “May 19” was celebrated with Şükrü Kaya‘s arrangement.
Until then, “May 19” wasn’t given any special meaning, besides his expression “Gentlemen, I landed at Samsun on the nineteenth day of May of year 1919. This was the general state of affairs:” in Nutuk.
With the Law No. 3466 dated June 20, 1938, “May 19” was officialized as the Festival of Youth and Sports. March of “Dağ Başını Duman Almış” was announced as March of the Festival of Youth and Sports.