The Annual Pardoning of the Thanksgiving Turkey
President Bush Monday pardoned a Thanksgiving turkey in a Rose Garden ceremony at the White House.
This year marks the 54th consecutive pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkey. This event began during the Civil War, but the practice was dropped until 1947, when President Harry Truman pardoned the first National Thanksgiving Turkey.
Every year, the National Turkey Federation has raised two turkeys to participate in the ceremony at the White House. This year's National Thanksgiving Turkey has been named "Liberty"; the alternate turkey is named "Freedom."
Special care and attention has been given from the first day they were hatched, with increased personal interaction helping acclimate the birds for the crowds at the pardoning ceremony. The turkeys will live out their remaining years at the Frying Pan Park's Kidwell Farm, a petting farm for children in Herndon, Virginia. Pardoned turkeys have been sent to this farm for the past 11 years and have an average life expectancy of two years.
After pardoning a turkey from the Thanksgiving dinner table, President George W. Bush invites children to pet Liberty, the freed bird. "Through the generations, our country has known its share of hardships. And we've been through some tough times, some testing moments during the last months," said President Bush. "Yet, we've never lost sight of the blessings around us: the freedoms we enjoy, the people we love, and the many gifts of our prosperous land."
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