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A Defining Statue of Ataturk

: “The new statue of Atatürk represents the first public monument in the United States honoring one of the towering figures of the 20th century.”

“The new statue of Atatürk represents the first public monument in the United States honoring one of the towering figures of the 20th century. Embedded in the semi-circular balustrade are Atatürk’s words, ‘Peace at Home… Peace in the World.’”

On December 5, 2013 Nelson Mandela died, one of the most successful fighters for social justice in history. Cut from the same cloth as Mahatma Gandhi, he helped to liberate his nation from racial and colonial oppression, and went on to unify his nation. Mandela had started his decades of struggles as a militant, though not a military hero, but embraced peace and healing in his mature years. It is that transformation that has to be regarded as the miracle of Mandela. Standing in front of the South African Embassy in Washington is a powerful bronze statue of Nelson Mandela, his right hand stretched upward in a clenched fist, symbolic of the fight that he had carried on the better part of his life. Mandela’s statue was unveiled on September 21, 2013 by his grateful nation.

A month ago on November 10, the Atatürk Society of America (ASA) unveiled a full-sized bronze statue of Kemal Atatürk. Located on the periphery of Sheridan Circle, next to the Turkish Ambassador’s Residence at 1606 23rd Street, NW, Washington, DC, this is the first public monument in the United States honoring the greatest Turk of them all. Its timing coincides with both the 90th Anniversary of the founding of the secular Republic of Turkey in 1923 and the 75th Anniversary of Atatürk’s death on November 10, 1938. He too had liberated his nation — first from occupying foreign troops and then from centuries of backward Caliphate Rule. He wanted his new democratic republic to face westward — adopt a secular system of governance with full gender equality — and he launched reform after reform that brought his nation into the 20th Century.

A full-size statue of Atatürk already stood on the grounds of the Turkish Embassy at 1625 Massachusetts Avenue, but it was not readily accessible to the public, standing on raised ground behind a massive wrought iron fence surrounding the embassy. Moreover, it was in the style of Eastern European heroic statuary, made of fiberglass, and over-painted in bronze tones. The ASA thought that Atatürk deserved better. The Turkish-American architect Nuray Anahtar drew preliminary plans for the new statue to be placed at the center of a semicircular balustrade surrounding an indentation in the wall of the Turkish Ambassador’s Residence. And she nimbly carried the applications for permits through meetings with a plethora of city officials — the Advisory Neighborhood Commission, the DC Board for Public Spaces, and the Historic Preservation Commission. What made the site unique was its location squarely on DC public space donated for the statue by the City. As such, the statue represents the first public monument in the United States honoring one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century.

The consensus of the Board of the Atatürk Society was to have Kemal Atatürk depicted in a timeless realistic style and cast in bronze. The Board had to decide the age at which to depict Atatürk — as a young military officer struggling with battle strategy and wearing a uniform replete with a “kalpak” (a sheepskin fez); as the new President of the Secular Republic that he founded, and still wearing a fez; or as the mature statesman in the early 1930s, svelte, but an elegant modern man. Again there was consensus in the Committee’s decision: he would be depicted as a thoroughly modern man, determined and exuding the legendary confidence that had defined him in life. For Turks, images of Atatürk are embedded deep in their marrow. They have all spent their lives communing with images of Atatürk, and although they might have their own favorite visions of the man, they can immediately assess whether an image produced by an artist even resembles him. Finally, the finished product had to be produced in record time.

JEFFREY HALL, SCULPTOR

A small list of four talented sculptors was drawn up as candidates to be considered for the commission: one in Azerbaijan; another in Salt Lake City, Utah; and a pair of young local artists whose names were provided by Lindy Hart, the widow of Frederick “Rick” Hart” (1942-1999), one of the great sculptors of the last quarter of the 20th century. Rick Hart had carved the Tympanum, including his masterpiece, the “Ex Nihilo,” above the Western Entrance of the National Cathedral. Then a few years later, he had created the bronze statue of the “Three Soldiers” at the Vietnam Memorial, the full complex standing in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial. The statue of the soldiers is a realistic and extraordinarily powerful portrayal of three heavily armed soldiers trudging through the jungles of Vietnam. The two younger candidates had both worked for many years as Rick Hart’s assistants.

Jeff Hall is seen working on the 34" clay model of the statue, with the original 12" maquette in the background, and the bust on the right.

Jeff Hall is seen working on the 34″ clay model of the statue, with the original 12″ maquette in the background, and the bust on the right.

Deciding to go with one of the two younger sculptors turned out to be a crucial decision. Jeffrey L. Hall lived no farther than one-hour’s distance from Washington, and he insisted that he could produce the finished piece in roughly six months. The committee came to realize quickly that he was always open to suggestions, and always willing to make changes, no matter how drastic. A few of the members made at least a dozen visits to Jeff’s studio in rural Virginia to oversee the work in progress and to offer new suggestions. Rick Hart’s comment that Jeff’s “…quality of work rivals any in history,” became a source of confidence, tempering the fear of the well-worn aphorism, “A camel is a thoroughbred designed by a committee!” Jeff knew nothing about Atatürk before he started working on his initial clay model, a 12” high maquette. But as he immersed himself in the hundreds of photos, and even old films that captured his subject’s general demeanor and movement, he became as familiar with Atatürk’s deportment as any Turk. “The Incredible Turk”, a 1958 documentary narrated by Walter Cronkite, was especially useful for this purpose. The maquette was then rescaled to a 34” tall clay model. In this second redaction, the subject’s stance could be modified in rescaling it again to a full 6’7” model. Simultaneously, Jeff started working on a full-size bust that would be integrated into the final statue. To view a slide show prepared by the artist, click on Creation of the Atatürk Statue.

Left: The cast bronze arms, before they are welded to the statue. Center: the details of book, "Nutuk," in the statue's left hand. Right: Wingtip shoes introduced in the early 1930s, known to have been worn by Atatürk.

Left: The cast bronze arms, before they are welded to the statue. Center: the details of book, “Nutuk,” in the statue’s left hand. Right: Wingtip shoes introduced in the early 1930s, known to have been worn by Atatürk.

After the full-size clay model is prepared, molds are created of the separate segments: the bust, the arms, the torso...  Molten bronze is then poured into the molds, before the segments are welded together. In the photo above, a worker in the foundry is seen applying the patina onto the fully-assembled bronze statue, and curing it with the heat of a blow torch.

After the full-size clay model is prepared, molds are created of the separate components: the bust, the arms, the torso… Molten bronze is then poured into the molds, and subsequently the components are welded together. In the photo above, a worker in the Laran Bronze Foundry in Philadelphia is seen applying the patina and curing it with the heat of a blow torch.

As the author of a pair of books on Leonardo da Vinci (“Math and the Mona Lisa,” Smithsonian Books, 2004) and “Leonardo’s Universe” (National Geographic Books, 2009) I could bring suggestions based on my knowledge of the Renaissance genius’s own words. Leonardo, in painting “The Last Supper,” had emphasized the importance of the hands, “The subject should speak with his hand gestures as much as with his facial expressions.“ From the beginning I frequently spoke about Leonardo’s dictum regarding the importance of the hands. In Jeff’s statue Atatürk is depicted as a reformer/teacher, giving a speech. In his left hand he is holding a heavy book with the title “Nutuk” (“The Speech”). The book is resting on his hip, but with his index finger he is holding his place in the book. The right hand captures the electric moment when he has paused to make a point with his index finger, the intensity dramatized by the bulging veins in his hand.

In the plaster cast made from the original mold the sculptor conveys the illusion of light colored eyes by making the irises especially shallow. Note also the negative slope of the stripes in the tie.

In the plaster cast made from the original mold the sculptor conveys the illusion of light colored eyes by making the irises especially shallow. Note also the negative slope of the stripes in the tie.

Among other details, Jeff captures Atatürk’s “renkli gözleri” (his blue-gray eyes) in a dark bronze statue. The illusion of light colored eyes, in distinction to those with dark color, is achieved by making the irises much shallower than they would otherwise be in depicting a subject with dark eyes. Among the accompanying photos, a white plaster bust, cast directly from the mold for the bronze, reveals this trick. Another subtle detail is in the direction of the stripes on Atatürk’s tie. Mathematically speaking, these stripes display “negative slopes” (lower right-to-upper left). This style of stripe is known as the “American Stripe.” In distinction, the European (and other non-American) striped ties usually display positive slopes (lower left-to-upper right). In examining photos of Ataturk wearing ties, we found that his ties of choice had the American Stripe. One can only speculate about his personal collection of ties being presented to him by the American Ambassador in Ankara, or perhaps one of the Turkish Ambassadors who once occupied the Embassy in Washington. The details of the statue also include the chain for his pocket watch, draped naturally in a parabola across his vest, and in homage to his military days, his medal, partially covered by his right lapel. Standing next to the 6’7” bronze statue, perched on a 3” bronze base, one can sense Atatürk’s figure exuding that abstract quality described in Turkish as, “heybetli,” an unmistakable heroic presence.

In a day when genuinely great statesman seem to be rare, when a priestly class (whether clerics in Iran, rabbis of the ultra-Orthodox in Israel, or fundamentalists preachers in the United States) endorses taking one side or another in endless internecine warfare, it might be good to remember a couplet written by the English poet William Blake (1757-1827): “Mysteries will never cease; the Priest clamors for war, and the soldier peace.” He could not have been more prescient, or more accurate, in describing Atatürk. The unrivaled military tactician and strategist, who was undefeated in the military campaigns that had consumed the first three decades of his life, became the greatest proponent for peace once he established the Republic of Turkey. On the balustrade surrounding Atatürk’s statue, are his words in bronze lettering, “Peace at home… Peace in the World.” This is also reminiscent of the late Mr. Mandela.

Gutzon Borglum's equestrian statue, of General Sheridan (left). Borglum's "Heads of Presidents" at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.

Gutzon Borglum’s equestrian statue, of General Sheridan (left). Borglum’s “Heads of Presidents” at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.

SHERIDAN CIRCLE

The address, Sheridan Circle, is at the top of any short list of prime real estate in Washington, with the Embassy Row of Massachusetts Avenue radiating east and west from the circle. Several embassies line the rim of the circle. Along with the former Turkish Embassy (now the Ambassador’s Residence) there is the Romanian Embassy on the southern side, the Greek Embassy on the northeast, and the Embassy of Pakistan on the northwest. In front of several of the embassies stand statues of prominent statesmen, including Greece’s early 20th century Prime Minister, Eleftherios Venizelos, whose armed forces had fought Turkey until 1922, and who nominated Kemal Atatürk for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1934. A statue of Gandhi stands a quarter mile to the east, and the statues of Churchill and Mandela facing each other stand a mile to the west of Sheridan Circle. The centerpiece of the circle, however, is an equestrian statue of the Union General Philip Sheridan, for whom the circle is named. The equestrian statue, weathered naturally to a green patina during the 105 years it has stood at the site, is extraordinarily beautiful in its own right. The sculptor of the statue, Gutzon Borglum, is far better known as the sculptor of the heads of Presidents at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. The most recent of the four was Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, the 26th President, a good and colorful leader, but one who does not rise to the stratospheric prominence achieved by the other three. For Teddy Roosevelt, the timing was right. He was the reigning President when the monument was created, he was unusually fond of the West, and he was a friend of the sculptor.

The other three — Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln — are unrivaled as the greatest among the 44 Presidents in the history of the United States. The First President, General George Washington, unfaltering military leader who ultimately defeated the British, stands as the “Father of the Nation,” The third President, Thomas Jefferson, a brilliant theorist and political writer, authored the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson also strongly believed that religion was a personal choice that should be free from government interference. Then there is Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President, who held the United States together during the dark years of the Civil War. He authored the Emancipation Proclamation. Each member of this iconic trio is honored with an impressive architectural edifice in the city, his own National Monument.

Atatürk embodies the greatest assets of Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln — military strategist par excellence; social, educational and economic reformer; statesman — Father of his Country — the man the distinguished professor of psychiatry, Arnold Ludwig, in his 2002 book, “The King of the Mountain,” ranked Number One among all 2300 national leaders of the 20th century.

In the waning days of the 20th century, the Editors of Time Magazine, accustomed to selecting the “Individual of the Year,” found themselves saddled with the difficult task of selecting the “Individual of the Century.” Turks expressed their exuberance by the thousands in nominating Atatürk for the honor. The editors must have reasoned first that this was a concerted effort organized in Ankara or Istanbul. Then they must have felt, Atatürk was indeed a towering figure of the 20th century, but that his influence had been limited to a small sector of the planet. Accordingly, they must have felt compelled to eliminate him from the top spot. But others in the running, both good and bad, included FDR, Churchill, Mao Zedong and Hitler… Finally, Time Magazine announced its choice for the “Individual of the Century.” It would be Albert Einstein, symbolic of science in the Century of Science. As a physicist, I was initially surprised, but ultimately sanguine, regarding Time’s choice. As Einstein once remarked, “Politics are temporary, but equations [describing the laws of nature] are forever.”

Three of the foregoing finalists expressed private sentiments about Atatürk:
“My sorrow is that, it is no longer possible to fulfill my strong wish to meet this great man.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt
“The death of Atatürk, who saved Turkey during the war and revived the Turkish nation, is not only a loss for his country, but it is also a great loss for Europe…” — Winston Churchill
“Your nation produced the greatest leader of the century!” — Albert Einstein. (To Turkish graduate student, Münir Ülgür, at Princeton. Helen Dukas, who served Einstein as his secretary for 25 years, also mentioned Einstein’s long held sentiment regarding Atatürk to me at the Institute for Advanced Study in 1974.) See also ”Einstein’s Letter to Ataturk’s Turkey”
References and Acknowledgements:

• Walter Cronkite, The Incredible Turk (in the series, the 20th Century, 1958).
• Click on the following link to view the “lost wax method” employed in the Creation of the Atatürk Statue
• Peace loving Turks in America can thank Hudai and Mirat Yavalar, Founders of the Ataturk Society of America, for commissioning the statue of Atatürk. I would strongly recommend a visit to the statue.

Flanking the 6'7" clay model of Atatürk's statue, from left to right: Sculptor Jeff Hall, Hudai and Mirat Yavalar, Bulent and Carol Jean Atalay at the artist's studio.

Flanking the 6’7″ clay model of Atatürk’s statue from left to right: Sculptor Jeff Hall, Hudai and Mirat Yavalar (Founders of ASA), Bulent and Carol Jean Atalay at the artist’s studio.

Comments

  1. Ahmet Rüştü Hatipoğlu
    Ankara, Türkiye
    January 17, 4:14 am

    After this amazing effort and work put in to create such a work of art by ASA and Jeff L. Hall and finally writing such an article on the subject, Prof. Bülent Atalay, there is only one thing to say: THANK YOU… I am proud to be a part of modern Türkiye… Yes, that is quite right: WE DO WANT PEACE IN EVERY WALK OF LIFE… As our founder taught us…

  2. Prof.Temel Çakaloz
    Izmir - Turkey
    January 16, 10:11 am

    may I visit the US in future, first thing I will see the monument . Thanks to people invoved in the project.

  3. Didem Aydinmakina
    Eskisehir, TURKEY
    January 4, 8:23 am

    An Ataturk Statue in Washington DC. Perfect timing. I would like to express my gratitude to the Board of the Ataturk Society, Hudai and Mirat Yavalar, Nuray Anahtar, sculptor Jeffrey Hall and the volunteers who participated in this project on behalf of Turkish Society. Also extra admiration to Bulent Atalay not only for the considerable efforts that he made to share this article but also having an active role in representing the Turkish citizens….Last but not least, I would like to salute Jeffrey Hall for the detailed exquisite work he had performed.

  4. Rauf Sarper
    atlanta
    December 31, 2013, 12:52 pm

    I want to express my gratitude to you and to all the people who were involved in this endeavor.
    All of you should be proud of your accomplishment. The statue of Ataturk will remain forever as the symbol of our great leader, and your personal efforts along with the other supporters of this historical monument will be remembered forever.

  5. Associate Prof. Sümer Hasimoglu MS, PhD
    Schwerin, Germany
    December 31, 2013, 12:11 pm

    I received the article from my brother-in-law, Dr. Metin Akalin. “A defining Statue of Atatürk Posted” by Bülent Atalay is a very descriptive and educative article that I enjoyed reading. I should admit that I have learned a lot about the past history of erecting the statue of Atatürk, who was a twentieth century soldier, a hero and Founder of the modern Republic of Turkey that the statue is also one of the best I have seen. Looking at this art, Atatürk represents the people of Turkey, entire humanity, national freedom of Turkey, secular democracy, and global peace. I would also like to extend my congratulations and thanks to Mr. B. Atalay for the article and my gratitude to Mr. Hall for the fine artistic ability. Kind regards.

    Sümer (Schwerin, Germany)

  6. Dr. Metin Akalin
    Germany
    December 31, 2013, 11:34 am

    A defining Statue of Atatürk Posted by Bülent Atalay. I would like to thank to Mr. Atalay for the very informative article that describes the past history of Turkey and its leader Atatürk. However, I would like to indicate here that this newest statue of Ataturk actually should be placed in public space, at a beautiful location instead of on the grounds of the Ambassador’s Residence. The sculptor did an excellent job which describes Atatürk as the establisher of the modern Turkey. Mr. Jeff Hall has done such a great job on the statue of Atatürk. Thanks to Mr. B. Atalay for the article that I have enjoyed reading and learnt a lot.

    Sincerely,

    Dr. Metin Akalin

  7. Aliye Celik
    New York
    December 31, 2013, 8:24 am

    Thanks to all the people who are committed to remind everyone of the accomplishments of Ataturk and the Turkish Nation.The wonderful sculpture and the article made all peace lovers very happy.

  8. CAN FUTACI
    ISTANBUL TURKIYE
    December 30, 2013, 12:36 pm

    “PEACE AT HOME, PEACE IN THE WORLD.” IS A PRONOUNCEMENT BY ATATURK. I HOPE THE PRESENT GOVERNMENT OF TURKIYE MAY REMEMBER IT SOON . . .

  9. Judy L Esau
    Charlottesville, VA
    December 28, 2013, 11:33 am

    “WOW….just WOW! What a great article and I’m always learning. I really enjoyed the discussion regarding the message that would be conveyed by a simple outfit, being Western fashion, to be timeless in nature for future admirers.”

  10. Bulent Atalay
    December 20, 2013, 10:25 am

    Thank you, Nergis, for the comment regarding Washington’s newest statue. This powerful statue of Ataturk is actually in public space, rather than on the grounds of the Ambassador’s Residence. I hope that you will get to see it before too long. Happy Holidays to you and your family,
    Bulent

  11. Nergis Dolunay Sursal
    Virginia Beach, VA
    December 19, 2013, 9:37 pm

    Ataturk is the founder of Turkey and it is only fitting that would be his statue on the grounds of the ambassador’s residence. and at a beautiful location.
    The modern clothes describes his progressive thinking and aiming towards the future.
    You have described Ataturk and the story of the statue so well, with statements from distinguished people of his era.
    I enjoyed your article and it has been most informative.Thank you.

  12. Carol and David Seielstad
    Hawai'i
    December 14, 2013, 10:43 am

    Thank you for sharing this statue and information. After living in Turkey, we went on to spend 25 more years living and working in the Middle East. The changes Ataturk made were striking in comparison with other countries in the region. He was an amazing statesman. The sculptor did an excellent job.

  13. DR. GÜLER KARCIOGLU and DR. ZEYNEL KARCIOGLU
    Charlottesville, Virginia
    December 13, 2013, 4:54 pm

    Prof. Bülent Atalay

    Dear Bülent,
    The past few years we have spent in the land of Jefferson has made Güler and me quite conscious of Jefferson’s enduring political, social and scholastic principles. We are, perhaps somewhat unexpectedly, not strangers to many of Jefferson’s ideals, and I would submit that his beliefs closely parallel those that we were brought up with, in Atatürk’s Turkish Republic. I am confident that you, along with many of our contemporaries – along with political scientist and Jefferson scholar, Garret Ward Sheldon (*), would agree.

    In the Introduction of his book Jefferson & Atatürk, Sheldon writes:
    “At first glance, Thomas Jefferson and Kemal Atatürk seem to be unusual compatriots. Jefferson, the eighteenth-century North American philosopher and a Founder of the United States; and Atatürk, the twentieth century soldier of the Ottoman Empire and Founder of the modern Republic of Turkey, seem separated by history, culture, and temperament. Yet a closer examination of these two historic political figures reveals striking similarities in background, interests, and ideals. From their growing up in vast, but decaying, empires to their leading national independence movements, to their shared ideals of representative democracy, economic equality and progress, religious freedom and liberty, and love of the country side, Thomas Jefferson (an icon of American civilization) and Kemal Atatürk (the hero of Modern Turkey) show remarkable kinship across cultural and historical landscapes.”

    As unlikely as the pairing may appear, however, there are clear and easily recognizable parallels:
    Both leaders realized early in their lives that the fight for their peoples’ liberation could not be achieved by a simple rejection of the past, but by establishing entirely new political and social systems as well as self-sustaining institutions. The idea of creating an independent, secular, democratic republic in each of their respective homelands made them treasonous criminals to their old Empires, and rewards were placed on their heads.

    Furthermore, Jefferson and Atatürk realized clearly that illiteracy, anti-intellectualism and obliviousness characteristic of the Middle-Ages were serious enemies of self-government. Therefore, each campaigned for education and tirelessly pushed to arm all of their fellow citizens – both men and women – with literacy and knowledge; neither’s efforts were restricted to the privileged or the landed elites.

    Last but not least, both great men saw with certainty that an absolutely necessary element for a modern republic was the separation of the state from religion. Atatürk and Jefferson knew well that the involvement of religion in the political, judicial and economic affairs of the state would corrupt both religion and politics, and therefore could not be beneficial for society, and would instead serve the interests of a few groups.

    Despite all of the parallels between these two great men who shaped so many lives, for Turkish-Americans like us there has been a certain imbalance in Washington, DC, which can be considered, as much as any city, the World’s capital during the 21st Century. Jefferson has long had his statue, in fact a monument to commemorate his greatness, but Atatürk did not. We are grateful to you, Bülent, and to your friends, Hudai and Mirat Yavalar, and also to the gifted Virginian sculptor Jeff Hall, for your vision and hard work rectifying this inequity and for letting everyone know what a great man Kemal Atatürk was and still is.
    Cordially yours,

    GÜLER & ZEYNEL KARCIOGLU
    Charlottesville, Virginia

    (*)Garrett Ward Sheldon, Jefferson & Atatürk Political Philosophies, Peter Lang Publishing, Inc. 2000
    Garrett Ward Sheldon, PhD, The John Morton Beaty Professor of Political and Social Sciences at The University of Virginia’s College at Wise is the author of The Political Philosophy of Thomas Jefferson; The History of Political Theory; and Religion and Politics. He has been a lecturer at Universities of Virginia and İstanbul and at Oxford and Moscow Universities.

    • Bulent Atalay
      December 14, 2013, 11:28 am

      Dear Zeynel,

      Thank you for the incisive comment and the reference to Garrett Ward Sheldon. I have long been aware (intuitively) of the parallels in the thoughts of Jefferson and Ataturk, thanks to you I know now that a distinguished political philosopher has written about these parallels. (Incidentally, I just ordered a copy of the book.)

      If you get a chance, watch the Walter Cronkite documentary, “The Incredible Turk,” broadcast in a 1958 edition of 20th Century. There is the American Ambassador Joseph Clark Grew recognizing Ataturk for his astonishing achievements. Then Ataturk responds, “The Turkish Nation is democratic by nature. I have no doubt the United States which has go so far in this ideal is Turkey’s friend in her aim… This will not be all. Perhaps this can lead to a world of love with all old prejudices erased, with all nations coexisting in peace and prosperity.” The horrors of war are best understood by the warriors, not by the priests. It also gives you a chance to hear Ataturk actually speaking.

      Warm regards,

      Bulent

  14. Arnold M. Ludwig
    Providence
    December 13, 2013, 7:58 am

    A wonderful article. A great homage to a great man.

    • Bulent Atalay
      December 14, 2013, 11:16 am

      Arnold, thank you for the comment. You performed the monumental task of comparing all the leaders of the 20th century, and presenting their achievements from the vantage point of a psychiatrist. Your book, “King of the Mountain,” should be required reading in courses in political science. Bulent

  15. Metin
    U.S.
    December 12, 2013, 6:52 pm

    Bülent bey,
    Thank you for the informative background you provided of the Atatürk statute that was recently erected in Washington D.C.
    Some people view statutes as iconolatry. In some well-known beliefs, they even tear them down. My view is that statutes are erected not to immortalize people, but as a recognition of immortality of already immortal characters.
    Modern Turks all over the world must greatly appreciate the Washington D.C. officials’ decision to allocate public space for Atatürk statute, for this decision must not have been motivated by a desire to further decorate this already beautiful city, but by a desire to mark this global capital of freedom with a symbol of secular democracy, of modernity, and of world peace, in the image of Atatürk.
    The artist, Jeffrey Hall, deserves an outstanding ovation for having so vividly reflecting Atatürk’s leadership character in progressiveness in the minute details he sculpted.
    ASA Board of Directors scored a lasting achievement by conceiving the idea and by making the obviously right choices along the way. Anyone viewing this artful and meaningful edifice should not see it simply as a symbol of remembrance of Atatürk, but more as what he represents for the entire humanity, individual and national freedom, secular democracy, and global peace.
    Many thanks to all involved in this project.
    Metin

  16. Amelia Atalay
    December 12, 2013, 5:47 pm

    Excellent Büyükbaba! I’m very proud that you’re involved with this. The statue can be a reminder that Turkey, with unity and strength, can prevail through rough times. By what I have heard, Atatürk revived and revolutionized Turkey, therefore I think it’s fitting for him to finally have a statue in public space in Washington, DC. I can’t wait for you to tell me more over the holidays!
    Best wishes, Amelia

  17. Jeff Hall
    Virginia
    December 12, 2013, 10:59 am

    It was a privilege to sculpt the statue of Ataturk for the Ataturk Society of America. I appreciated meeting and listening to every one who came out to help with adjustments and to give honest criticisms of my work. The guests and critics included Hudai and Mirat Yavaler, Bulent and Carol Atalay, Filiz Odabas, and Nuray Anahtar. Watching films of Ataturk and perusing books and photographs of him provided an invaluable experience.

    One of the pleasures of sculpting people of distinction is in getting to research their lives and cultures. Hemingway once said, “If you want to have books written about you then live a life worth writing about.” Ataturk most certainly did that!

    There are thousands of statues of Ataturk around the world some are heroic, and others romantic and stylized, but we wanted ours to be more truthful, and let Ataturk’s natural strength and elegance come through. We wanted to create a more intimate setting where the viewer would sense Ataturk’s accessibility. I hope that we have done that. Jeff Hall

  18. Ilknur Boray
    United States
    December 11, 2013, 11:57 pm

    Prof. Atalay, thank you for this exceptional article. The unveiling of the Ataturk statue was a very emotional and proud event for those of us who witnessed it on that historical day. I enjoyed reading every little detail about the whole statue project, even though, as a Board Member of ASA, I had been following the developments from the beginning. Your description of the other famous statues of World leaders on Embassy Row, and the heads of the Presidents at Mount Rushmore makes us realize once more, the unique quality which connects all these brilliant leaders with Ataturk: Their humanistic ideals, and the great steps they took for humanity.

  19. Savas Yavuzkurt
    Professor, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
    December 11, 2013, 9:11 pm

    Dear Bulent

    I read your article with great interest and emotion. Thanks for continually reminding us of the importance of Ataturk and his timeless contributions to Turkish people, as well as many others around the world. It is nice to see the statue on public space in the United States, “the Land of the Free,” to remind us of the many freedoms we gained as a result of his reforms and leadership.
    I would also like to extend my congratulations and thanks to Mirat and Hudai Yavalar.
    Please keep up the great work.

    • Bulent Atalay
      December 11, 2013, 10:42 pm

      Dear Savas,

      If you get a chance, watch that 55 year old Walter Cronkite documentary for which I gave a link. Atatürk is seen conversing with the American Ambassador Joseph Clark Grew. He says to Mr. Grew, “I have no doubt the United States has gone so far in this ideal [secular democracy] is Turkey’s friend in her aim. This will not be all. Perhaps this can lead to a world of love with all old prejudices erased, with all nations coexisting in peace and prosperity.”

      Bulent

  20. Idil Ozer
    Hope College, Michigan, MI
    December 11, 2013, 11:56 am

    If they were to unveil this statue in present-day Turkey ruled by a religious government, they would arrest both the artist and the statue. How can you arrest a statue? I don’t know, you should ask the police who “arrested” a pianist and his piano for playing music in Taksim for the protesters.

  21. Bulent Atalay
    December 11, 2013, 9:46 am

    I was especially happy to have an American sculptor create this statue. If you visit DC in the future, please come and see it. Atatürk was known to be eminently approachable, and by placing him at ground level, we could have people pose with him, just as with the statue of Jefferson at Monticello. A problem, however, was in portraying a 5’8″ tall man (Ataturk) as a 6’7″ titan. Perhaps elevating the statue on a granite pedestal approximately 16″ high would be a good compromise. Thank you for the note. I was an instructor for the Peace Corps groups Turkey 2 (at Georgetown) and Turkey 8 (at Princeton).

  22. izzet keribar
    Istanbul, Turkey
    December 11, 2013, 12:38 am

    Dear Bulent,

    Many thanks for posting these great news to us. I read and enjoyed every word of your text.. I also liked the statue, and the decision to show Atatürk as a modern man. Congratulations to Mirat and Hudai Yavalar too. I will certainly visit the place if I travel to Washington.
    Keep well, Izzet Keribar

  23. William R Woodward
    University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH
    December 10, 2013, 5:54 pm

    Thank you Bulent Atalay for explaining to U.S. citizens how important Ataturk was as a general and as a statesman for modernity. I loved the details about the hands inspired by your work on Leonardo. The ASA made a fine decision to choose a young sculptor who would work with them. And a big thank you to the benefactors, Mirat and Hudai Yavalar. I served as a Peace Corps instructor in the Psychology Department at Haceteppe U. in 1969-1970 (Turkey 17, the last group). My field is history of psychology.