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An oasis in the midst of a desert region

Memorial of Anzac Cove in Gallipoli.
Memorial of Anzac Cove in Gallipoli.

Well, I had the most delightful afternoon at the grand opening of the Turkish Cultural Center here in Knoxville, Tennessee. I was particularly excited when I found out about the celebration because I used to live in Turkey. Although that was a very long time ago, and I was very young, I remember thinking that this was a very special country.

Today was a reminder of some of the reasons that Turkey is so special beginning with the wonderful people. Besides the fact that they are physically beautiful, they also have such sweet spirits. I felt like I was at a family reunion. There were children everywhere that were very well behaved, but at the same time having fun. Next came the food. Oh my goodness! There was a delicious spicy potato salad, pasta salad, a lentil pate, savory herb-filled biscuits, small lasagne bites, baklava, pastry filled with apple and nuts and dusted with powdered sugar, and several other sweet treats that I ate before I found out what they were.

The center plans to be an active part of the community, endeavoring to not only share their culture with cooking lessons and classes in learning to speak and read Turkish, but also, to address areas of concern and answers questions from those who are curious. I encourage you to be very curious and do not pass up the opportunity to embrace knowledge and experience another culture.

Turkey is unique for various reasons including the fact that it borders the Black Sea to the north; the Mediterranean Sea to the south, the Aegean Sea to the West, and the Sea of Marmara to the northwest, harboring bustling ports of call and exotic beaches. But this is a large country and as you move west there are many mountains for climbing and skiing. There are museums, restaurants, theatre, churches, mosques, synagogues, mixtures of the modern and the traditional. In fact, one might almost think of it as the middle eastern version of the United States; and it is one of our strongest allies

As a Christian, I appreciate the fact that much of Biblical history takes place in Turkey. In fact, Mary, the mother of Jesus, is buried at Izmir, Turkey. Nearby are the ruins of the old city of Ephesus, and on ancient maps most of Turkey is shown as Galatia. In addition, in the southeastern part of the country and crossing over the border into Iraq is the area believed to be where the Garden of Eden still exists but is hidden from the human eye.

I have barely scratched the surface of the appeal of Turkey, so I again encourage you to find out for yourself by researching the very interesting history of the country and if you have the chance, attend some of the classes where you can learn about the food, the language, and the culture. Visit their website to find out more information.

The words of great Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk who founded the modern Republic of Turkey. He was the chief general commander of Turkish side on the battle at that time and these words are written on Memorial of Anzac Cove in Gallipoli.

"Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives… you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets (Turkish people call their soldiers like that) where they lie side by side here in this country of ours… You the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. Having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well." Mustafa Kemal Ataturk


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