CLEVELAND — Mehmet Gencer is the president of the Turkish Cultural Garden. He planted a Turkish flag in the garden on Aug. 29 to celebrate Victory Day.

“Victory Day is the beginning of finally getting our independence,” Gencer said ahead of the holiday.

What You Need To Know

  • Turkey's Victory Day is Aug. 30

  • It commemorates the Turkish military's win of a key battle

  • Mehmet Gencer, the president of Cleveland's Turkish Cultural Garden, said Victory Day is one of the biggest holidays in the country

 Gencer said he has relatives who served in the army and said Aug. 30 is an important day to recognize them. 

“This is our, really one of the biggest holidays,” Gencer said. “[Mustafa Kemal] Atatürk, the commander then, Commander Atatürk got us this freedom and then eventually [the country] became [the] Turkish republic.”

It took another year after that victory for Turkey to be become a nation. In 2023, the nation will mark its centennial year. 

“Now you have a nation,” Gencer said. “It's very secular and very free and very western-world [like]. Also, a lot of science work is going on, and that's because of [Atatürk.]”

For this reason, Gencer added that he’s proud to share Turkey’s legacy and its history in Cleveland. He recently represented Turkey at Cleveland’s One World Day.

“You know, we have our friends, we gather and do the things and keep our Turkish heritage at the highest level,” Gencer said.

The garden’s president said the Turkish community in Cleveland is small, but strong.

“We always had a small community. But then we are, I should say that Turks, just generally [and] culturally are warm people, very welcoming people. So that doesn't change in [the] Cleveland area either,” Gencer said.