June 01, 2009 - Sunday, May 24th marked the launch of the first Congressional delegation trip organized and sponsored by the Turkish Coalition of America. The TCA congressional delegation to Turkey included Congresswoman Jean Schmidt (R-OH/2nd), as well as senior staff members from the offices of Congresswoman Schmidt, the House Democratic Caucus, Congresswoman Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI/13th), and Congressman Christopher Murphy (D-CT/5th). Senior TCA staff led the delegation.
The delegation’s first stop was Ankara. In the capital, the group met with U.S. Embassy officials, Turkish government representatives, members of the press, and students. Their time in Ankara consisted also of a visit to Anıtkabir, mausoleum of the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
Congresswoman Jean Schmidt remarked, “It was a great privilege to honor Atatürk by laying a wreath at his memorial. Honoring his tremendous work in building a secular and peaceful nation is something I will not soon forget.”
From Ankara, the delegation will head on to Istanbul and Patara. A day excursion to Patara will include a visit to the ancient ruins of the Lycian civilization. The Lycian form of government served as inspiration for American founding fathers Alexander Hamilton and James Madison in molding the U.S. Constitution. The trip will conclude in Istanbul with the group’s participation in Bahçeşehir University’s Global Leadership Forum on the future of U.S.-Turkey relations. The delegation will also meet with members of civil society in Istanbul, as well as representatives of Turkey’s religious minorities and experience Turkish hospitality and culture first-hand.