Just three weeks ago 49 innocent lives were taken from us during the biggest mass shooting in US history. During that time we questioned our safety (again) to not only be who we are but to go the places that we love. The horrific acts that took place in Istanbul, Turkey claimed the lives of 44 people and injured 240 others. Those people were mothers, fathers, children, teachers, students, they were beloved friends, honeymooners, hard workers, they were living, when ignorance and violence took everything from not only them but also, their families and their country. 44 lives were ended that day but millions were destroyed. All of this only leaves me asking myself: what has this world come to? When will I not be afraid to go outside and live? For us in America, our beloved Fourth of July celebration is just around the corner, but to be quite frank, this year I’m feeling a little less patriotic. Not because I don’t love my country because I do, but because while we are here celebrating our independence. The lives of millions are falling apart. This attack is a reminder to us all that violence affects us all. It’s rather heartbreaking that the only thing we can count on to unite us these days is none other than tragedy. We must stand in union and support with our friends overseas who are affected by these violent attacks; because the only difference between them and us is: today, we weren't the ones being targeted, but with violence being so unpredictable who knows what tomorrow may bring.
(Not all pictures and stories of the victims have been released to the public.)
Huda 8, Kerime 24, Zehra 16, and Meryem Amiri, 14
pictured: Kerime, Zehra, and Meryem Amiri.
pictured: Huda Amiri
Huda along with her three aunts -- sisters Kerime, Zehra and Meryem were in Istanbul on a family visit. The family was outside waiting for a taxi, when an explosion detonated inside of the airport's international terminal, close to where they were standing. After hearing the explosion, Abdulmumin Amiri, the father of the sisters and grandfather to Huda ran toward his family who were only five feet away from them however, he could not save them. Upon his arrival, one of his daughters was already dead. He took the other three girls to the hospital were they were later pronounced dead. Abdulmumin's two other daughters and wife Hacirah were among the hundreds wounded but were released hours later from the hospital only to begin planning a funeral for their loved ones. Muhammed Amiri, father of 8 year-old Huda told CNN, that before Huda had left Saudi Arabia, she had hugged him, and asked for him to accompany her on her trip. He told her he would come see her soon. Holding back tears, realizing he will never see his daughter again he places his hand on her casket saying, "she was very lovely, but I lost her".
Özgül Ide, 21
Özgül graduated from Istanbul Arel University last year with a degree with Tourism and Hospitality, she was working in the airport during the time of the terrorist attacks. A friend of her's wrote, "My dearest friend, rest in peace, you left us way too early. We will never forget you."
Merve Yiğit, 22
Merve was working as a part time cook at the airport to pay for college, where she was studying public relations. She died at the hospital from her injuries. A friend of her's wrote on Twitter: "This time the pain is so different. No words for it. May you be in lights my beautiful friend. May you have the best place in heaven."
Çağatay Çöl, 26
Çağatay had studied biology at Osmangazi University and was working as ground services crew member at the airport. He is remembered as being "beloved by all" in his village. He often expressed his patriotism on social media, one of his tweets read: “While my head might generally be volatile, my blood is not. Sure, I might occasionally have emotional ups and downs, (but) my heart has belonged to my country ever since my father first thought of me.”
Ertan An, 38
Ertan was a father and husband, who worked as a translator. He was accompanying a tourist group when he was killed in the attacks. He spoke fluent German and had attended high school in Austria. His wife is currently expecting their second child in three months.
Dr. Fathi Bayoudh
Dr. Bayoudh served as chief of pediatrics at the Tunis Military Hospital and medical school professor. He was on a mission to get his son and daughter-in-law back from ISIS when he was killed in the massacre that may have been planned by the terror group. Dr. Bayoudh paid smugglers to help the couple escape Iraq. He was picking his wife up at the airport when he received the news that his son was safe and in the custody of Turkish border officials. Family friend Ali Gannoun, a professor at the University of Montpellier in France wrote about Dr. Bayoudh: "You died as a hero, Fathi, and you left as a martyr, You managed to recover your kid. He will live his freedom without you, but he will still be the son of a great man, an exceptional father and an outstanding physician. What you did is beyond love. We will remember your endless patience, your legendary determination and courage lacking in many of us."
Serkan Turk, 24
Serkan was working as a physical education teacher. He had gone to the airport to pick up his neighbor's mother. She told reporters: "I've heard three explosions. Serkan noticed that something was wrong and got inside the terminal building to find me. The bomb exploded as soon as he got inside." Hakan Dagdeviren, a friend and head of the Justice and Development Party youth branch told reporters: "Serkan was a good person, From what I've learned he had rushed to the site of the first explosion to help the wounded. He died in the second explosion."
Sundus Abdulhalim Basha, 25, and Nisrin Hashem Hammad, 26
Sundus and Nisrin were the two Palestinians killed in the attack, they were in holiday in Turkey, where they had planned to board a plan to return to West Bank and celebrate the Muslim holiday Ramadan. Sundus's 3 year-old son Rayan was pronounced dead on Saturday after being on life support since Tuesday. There were six other Palestinians who were injured in the attack and are currently being treated at the hospital for their injuries.
Umut was a customs officer who managed to shoot one of the attackers as he tried to pass through security, he tried to check if the attacker was dead or alive but was killed when the attacker detonated his suicide vest and he was unable to escape. Social media is now remembering Umut as a hero.
Muhammed Eymen Demirci, 25
Muhammed had big dreams of becoming a journalist, but in efforts to help pay for his younger sisters' education, he began work last month as a ground services worker at the Ataturk airport. He was waiting for a bus home after his shift when he was killed. His childhood friend Deniz Dogan had helped Muhammed who was also a black belt in taekwondo and a talented football player, prepare for the job exam and reassured him throughout the process. “He was such a friendly person, a man who fought for his ideals, now I wish he hadn’t got the job.”
Huseyin was a beloved high school teacher in Isanbul, one of his students remembers him as being a "beautiful person". His mother spoke of him at the funeral saying: "He grew up without a father. I brought him up against all odds. We were picking breadcrumbs from streets. No mother should feel this pain,"
Yusuf was a grounds services crew member who was set to marry his fiancée in 10 days. He had just finished his daily shift when the gunman stormed into the terminal building, he was waiting for a shuttle bus in the parking area when he was shot dead. His fiancée's mother told reporters: "First they told us Yusuf was seriously wounded. We lost him at the hospital. If he had stayed in the terminal building maybe he would have survived."
Gülşen Bahadır, 21
Gülşen was working as a grounds service crew member when the attacks took place, she was shot dead inside the terminal building. Her Facebook post from 21 June read: "I have never got into a war in my life, never. Not because I'm weak but because I chose so. My choice was resisting. Because I know that war is futile. There would be no winners in any war, only losers. I'm resisting against the injustices of the state. I'm only asking for the deserved welfare of the people. I resist against evil."
Goksel Kurnaz, 38
Goksel was a private security guard who had gone to the airport to meet his boss. He was married with two children.
Larisa Tsybakova, 46
Larisa was a citizen of the Ukraine who was on holiday in Turkey with her husband and son.
Yasin Ocal, 25
Yasin was a Turkish citizen who died of the injuries at the Bakirkoy Dr. Sadi Konuk Training and Research Hospital in Istanbul's Bakirkoy district.
Nisreen Melhim, 28
Nisreen, her husband and their 3 year-old daughter had just arrived in Istanbul from Saudi Arabia. Marvan, her husband said: "We heard shooting from a distance, the explosion went off. I found my wife bleeding and my daughter too." Nisreen died in the hospital from her injuries. “The ones who did this are brutal criminals,” her husband said. “How come they kill innocent people?”
Mustafa Biyikli, 51; Erol Eskisoy, 44; and Ali Zulfukar Yorulmaz, 48
pictured: Mustafa Biyikli
The attackers opened fire on taxi drivers as they entered the airport, killing three, and wounding 11 others. The Taxi Drivers' Cooperative held a memorial service before the burial. Mustafa was a father of his daughter, Oznur Buzakci said of his death, "There is no justice."
Seyfullah Dikbuyuk, a friend of Erol told reporters "Erol was a friend with a great sense of humor and a good man, very humble. He didn't care about money."
Murat worked in Istanbul as a hotel manager. His sister Ayse Nur Güllüce Caker, remembers him as: “my dear older brother whom I used to refer to as father," and said she "cannot endure such pain.”
Adem Kurt, 32
Adem was originally from Turkey and was working at the airport as part of the supervisory staff. He traveled home to the province of Bursa every single weekend to visit his family, and he had planned to marry his partner in the near future.
Abdulhekim Bugda, 24
Abdulhekim was originally from China, he also worked in the airport and had posted, "we are safe" on Facebook after the first gunshots rang out. This was before the attackers detonated their suicide vests.
Habibullah Sefer, 26
Habibullah was originally from Uzbekistan, and had just graduated from college.
Abrorjon Ustabayev, 22
Abrorjon was also originally from Uzbekistan, he worked as a trader and had just arrived in Istanbul with $12,000 worth of textiles to sell. A close friend, Kemal Han, told reporters: "He loved Turkey and had many dreams, terrorism destroyed both those dreams and his love of Turkey.”
Ercan Sebat, 41
Ercan worked as a passenger services officer at the airport, but his true passion was art. He was a very skilled charcoal artist who had had his work exhibited many times. They've torn out my lungs," his mother wailed at his funeral in Istanbul. "They tore to pieces my rose of a son, they dashed my spirit!"
Ferhat was a husband and a father of three children. He had gone to the airport to see a friend when he was killed in the attacks.
To the beautiful lives lost that day, may you all rest in peace and know you will never be forgotten, and may God give your families the strength and courage to face this unbearable time.