These sentries routinely hold guard at various points around Ataturk’s Mausoleum Anitkabir, in Turkey‘s capital city Ankara. They hold guard, not moving or changing position, in shifts of several hours much like the Royal Guard at England‘s Buckingham Palace. The rotation of soldiers is conspicuous routine and takes place out in the huge ceremonial plaza directly in front.
These soldiers in their stoic positions are one of my earliest childhood memories from one of my many trips to Anitkabir as a child. I recall staring up at them, wondering how they stayed so still or ignored my amateur attempts to rouse a smile. In more recent times though I spot what I was oblivious to as a child, a blink here or a facial twitch there.
These particular soldiers were likely doing their mandatory military service. Required of males in Turkey, landing a spot standing outside of Anitkabir is a pretty good luck of the draw. Relatively easy and not fraught with danger as a post along Turkey’s southeastern border may be. The military in Turkey has long been seen as the protector of the state, given that responsibility by the man whose tomb those soldiers now protect and honor. As all things political though, the establishment is changing. Last week with the resignation of practically all of the armed forces‘ senior staff in protest of the current government, what was once inseparable from the state has decidedly taken a step aside.
Anitkabir is currently TOP of my list for places I want to go to in Turkey. Our friend got the lucky draw when he did his military service and ended up with this post. His photos are all over Facebook with mum looking like the proudest person in the world! 🙂
I love Anitkabir and still get goosebumps reading the quotes along the walls. Ataturk’s library is especially interesting.
Your friend is lucky, I remember wanting that post as a kid!
I didn’t realise Turkey still had military service. It’s such a shame that the UK stopped it in the 1950s, it gives young men such a great platform for life.
I like that it teaches discipline and makes society as a whole take a different look on war. Attitudes change when it might be you or your son, brother, etc. being called up.
In recent years military service has been continually shortened but can’t imagine it being nixed in Turkey in the foreseeable future.
Hi Anil, that’s very interesting. I have seen a bunch of such “eternal live guards” and it always guarantees good photos for tourists, especially seeing embarrassed smiles on the guards’ faces when they get surrounded by giggly girls is a funny moment. In Toronto, during summer festivals, several apparel stores dress up real models and put them on sidewalks as an advertisement.
btw, did you serve in the military too?
haha, now that would be interesting, live models. You know I heard Shaq – the actual basketball player – did that a few times around Boston recently. Pretending to be a statue he tweeted about it and had people take photos while he didn’t twitch a muscle 🙂
I did do military service but a much shortened term, 1 month as I was working overseas.
With my poor feet, I’d be better off at the southeastern border. There’s NO way I could stand that still for that many hours. Walk, yes. Stand still, not a chance.
Imagine even in the heat of the summer with that uniform…
Love the picture Anil – Did you feel nervous taking it? Did he not flinch just once?
Thanks Natalie. No I wasn’t nervous at all, though I did catch him blink a few times 😉