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President George W. Bush pardons the Thanksgiving turkey during a Rose Garden ceremony Monday, Nov. 24, 2003. "I appreciate you joining me to give this turkey a presidential pardon," said the President in his remarks. "Stars is a very special bird with a very special name. This year, for the first time, thousands of people voted on the White House website to name the national turkey, and the alternate turkey. Stars and Stripes beat out Pumpkin and Cranberry. And it was a neck-to-neck race." White House photo by Paul Morse.

This year marks the 56th anniversary of the first National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation. Though live Thanksgiving turkeys were presented intermittently to presidents since the Lincoln administration, the current event dates to 1947, when the first National Thanksgiving Turkey was presented to President Harry Truman.

The presentation at times has brushed against broader history. For example, the November 1963 event was one of President Kennedy's last in the Rose Garden. President Clinton, in 1996, returned from an Asian summit and literally went directly to the ceremony.

This year's turkey was picked from among a group of 40 birds hatched on July 10 in a turkey barn in the Carthage, Missouri area.

A few minor modifications were made to prepare the turkeys for the presentation. The 40-bird flock was segregated into a special area in the barn, and the turkeys periodically were hand fed and given additional interaction with people in an effort to acclimate them to the environment they will experience in the Rose Garden Ceremony.

By mid-fall, 15 finalists are selected. The week before the presentation, the National Turkey Federation chooses the National Thanksgiving Turkey and its alternate to bring to Washington. An alternate is chosen in case the National Thanksgiving Turkey cannot fulfill the responsibilities of being the National Turkey.

After the presentation, the turkeys will be taken to Frying Pan Park's Kidwell Farm where they will reside.

The public has spoken. Thousands of votes have been cast and "Stars and Stripes" are the winning names of the Thanksgiving Turkey and runner up the President pardoned on November 24.

   Lewis and Clark
  Plymouth and Mayflower
  Harvest and Bounty
  Hope and Glory
  Pumpkin and Cranberry
  Stars and Stripes

November 26
Ask Jim Towey
Director of the Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, Jim Towey answered your questions in a special Thanksgiving edition of Ask the White House.
November 25
Ask the White House Chef
Chef Walter Scheib answered your Thanksgiving and culinary questions.
November 21
Ask the Turkey Guy The Turkey Guy answered your questions about the pardoning of Thanksgiving turkeys.

November 24, 2003
President Pardons National Thanksgiving Turkey
November 21, 2003
Proclamation by the President: Thanksgiving Day 2003
November 30, 2002
President Thanks Military and Volunteers in Radio Address
November 26, 2002
National Thanksgiving Turkey Spared
November 22, 2002
Thanksgiving Day, 2002
November 24, 2001
Radio Address by the President To the Nation
November 21, 2001
President Shares Thanksgiving Meal with Troops
November 19, 2001
President Pardons Thanksgiving Turkey
November 16, 2001
Thanksgiving Day Proclamation
January 22, 2001
National Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving, 2001

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