Yakup Satar, one of the last two surviving veterans of the Turkish War of Independence, died at home late Wednesday night in the Central Anatolian province of Eskisehir, which he had not left for the past 10 years due to various age-related illnesses.
In his final years Satar’s family home was frequent stop for Turkish leaders wanting to pay their respects to the war veteran. Many top politicians including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and various deputies as well as military officers visited Satar at home. The war veteran also hosted student groups, sharing with the younger generation his recommendations on how to maintain the nation’s integrity and solidarity.
In recent years Satar’s family provided a guestbook for the ever-growing number of visitors to record their opinions and emotions. The family home has hosted -- in addition to top politicians and army brass -- governors, mayors, students and Turkish citizens from all segments of society. The veteran also corresponded with people who lived too far away to visit, attaching a photograph to every letter.
According to military records, the last living veteran of the War of Independence is retired Col. Mustafa Sekip Birgol, aged 110, who lives in Istanbul.
In a message to express his condolences, Erdogan said: “What they [veterans] have done for our country is without price. In order to live up to their invaluable sacrifices, we have to take our republic, a democratic, secular and social state of law, to new heights.”
“I learned with great sorry about the death of our veteran Yakup Satar ... [one of the last heroes among us] .... of our War of Independence, led by great commander Gazi Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who turned the misfortunes besetting our country into an unprecedented victory,” the prime minister’s message said and continued. “As a nation, we can’t be proud enough of being the children of those peerless heroes who changed the course of history ... by fighting amidst poverty and deprivation.”
Erdogan and his wife, Emine Erdogan, had visited Independence War veteran Yakup Satar on April 1, 2007 at his home. The Erdogans had a brief chat with Satar and gave him a gold watch as a gift.
President Abdullah Gul, Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan and members of the Cabinet also released messages expressing condolences to the grieving family.
Satar was laid to rest yesterday in a military ceremony. Local mayors, the Eskisehir governor and Finance Minister Kemal Unakıtan -- representing the Cabinet -- along with a large group of residents attended the funeral, held at Resadiye Mosque in Eskisehir.
Satar had tried to share the memories of the state of the country and his personal experiences while a soldier in the War of Independence.
Guests were not being received at Satar’s house for the past few years, with the rare exception of high-profile guests, and the veteran was unable to leave his home due to illness. Satar lived with his two daughters.
Satar’s health was periodically monitored at his home by doctors from the Turkish Armed Forces’ (TSK) Eskisehir Hospital. The veteran kept abreast of developments in the country with the help of his daughters.
You can’t win the country back if you lose it
When he spoke to groups of students visiting his home, Satar would say: “The Independence War was won under very difficult conditions. The great leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and his friends who resisted the occupation realized a great miracle. Ataturk did not have adequate opportunities militarily. The army was made up of such young people -- almost boys -- who had no experience of war. We fought for the country under very rough conditions and have entrusted it in your hands. Be aware of how valuable it is. Ataturk used to tell us: ‘Be friends with everyone. Say hello to everyone.’ I am passing this on to you.
“If this country is lost, it can’t be won back. Younger generations should protect this country to the very end.”
Biography of Satar
Yakup Satar was born in Crimea in 1898. After moving with his family to Eskisehir, he fought on the Basra front in the Ottoman army during World War I.
He fought to defend Turkey from foreign invasion at the Great Battle of Sakarya. He returned to Eskisehir after the war, where he earned a living by farming. After losing his wife he lived with daughters Zekiye Tali and Bedriye Kalas.
Satar is survived by six children and nearly 50 grandchildren, and lived to see his grandchildren’s grandchildren last year.
Yakup Satar Wikipedia Page
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