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Social Studies Biographies
|edHelper's suggested reading level:||grades 8 to 10|
|Flesch-Kincaid grade level:||9.3|
By Vickie Chao
1 For more than 600 years, the Ottoman Empire was on top of the world. During its heyday, it controlled a vast territory encompassing Anatolia, the Middle East, northern Africa, and southeastern Europe. Back then, nobody would have thought that the Ottoman Empire could one day crumble to its knees. But it did anyway. On October 29, 1923, a new country -- the Republic of Turkey -- was born. Its very first president, who also happened to be the nation's founding father, was Kemal Atatürk.
2 Kemal Atatürk was born in Salonika in 1881. At the time of his birth, his parents gave him a single name, Mustafa. When the young boy was seven years old, his father passed away. Shortly after the tragedy, his mother moved the entire family to live on a farm outside of Salonika. But because she was afraid that Mustafa might not receive a good education there, she sent him back to the city to continue his study. Upon graduating from a secular primary school, Mustafa decided that he wanted to pursue a career in the army (much to his mother's dismay). To achieve that goal, he enrolled in a military secondary school where he excelled academically. Impressed by his intelligence, his mathematics teacher gave him an additional name "Kemal" (meaning "the perfect one"). After that, he was known as Mustafa Kemal.
3 In 1905, Mustafa Kemal completed his schooling and was sent to his first post at Damascus. From there, he launched his military career and rose through the ranks quickly. On several occasions, he had to confront armies that were much stronger and better-equipped than his own. But somehow, he always managed to emerge victorious. At the Battle of Gallipoli during World War I, for example, he successfully held the Allied Forces (led by British and French) at bay and saved Constantinople (then the capital of the Ottoman Empire; present-day Istanbul) from peril. Also, in the campaign against Russia, he defeated the enemies and won back several cities. These two particular events made Mustafa Kemal a national hero. Many called him "the savior of Istanbul" and bestowed upon him the honorary title of "Pasha."
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