About the Author: Victoria O’Connell is the Deputy Spokesperson for U.S. Embassy Ankara.
President Barack Obama’s visit to Turkey has tremendously improved the way the United States is viewed in this country. Yesterday, in the motorcade, Turks lined the streets to wave, cheer, and salute our President, Barack Obama. Our first stop of the day was at Anitkabir, the memorial to the founder of modern day Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. As the motorcade passed an elementary school that is located across the street from the memorial entrance, all of the children from the school were lined up and cheered our president. Some were even climbing up the side of the fence that surrounded their school so they could get a better view. During our drive to the presidency, one woman was waiting on the side of the road and held up an American flag with the word “Yes!” written across the red and white stripes. As we rushed along the ring road to the airport, two Turkish policemen stood together in the pouring rain and saluted every car in the motorcade.
The Turkish press was abuzz with enthusiasm for our new president, too. “Amazing” was the word one journalist friend used to greet me prior to the press availability at the presidency – and then she threw her arms around me in an embrace that nearly knocked me over!