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Thanksgiving and the Presidential Pardon

Thanksgiving and the Presidential Pardon

This week I intended to look back at previous Thanksgiving celebrations in the White House, but I became distracted by other things that I decided to readers would enjoy more:

First Turkey Pardon
Though President John F. Kennedy determined to keep–not kill–the live turkey given to him for the White House feast, the tradition of formally pardoning the White House turkey did not begin until 1989 when President George H.W. Bush bestowed an official pardon upon his gift turkey.

In 2005 a new tradition began. The turkeys were pardoned and then flown to Disneyland to serve as grand marshals of the Disneyland Thanksgiving parade; then they lived out their lives at a Disneyland ranch. No word from the turkeys to whether the grand marshal experience was worth the fright they must have suffered being transported by air.

This year the public has been asked to vote on whether a turkey named Popcorn or one named Caramel should be pardoned. Begrudgingly, the press has covered the story. As to the ultimate fate of the pardoned turkey? In more recent years the turkey (this year probably both turkeys) has been sent to Mt. Vernon to live out their lives. I’m glad they are not being subjected to a flight, particularly during holiday season.

And Two Priceless Quotes:
We don’t see a lot of humor from President Obama but I loved his statement from a few years ago: “There are certain days that remind me of why I ran for this office. And then there are moments like this where I pardon a turkey and send it to Disneyland,” he said. (11-25-09)

And I quit reading about Thanksgiving in the White House when I came upon a letter Will Rogers wrote to The New York Times (published in “Letters to the Editor,” November 23, 1929). In part, he wrote:

“Never blame a legislative body for not doing something.

“When they do nothing, that don’t hurt anybody. When they do something is when they become dangerous.”

Unfortunately those words continue to be true.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.



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