The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 26, 2002

National Thanksgiving Turkey Spared
Remarks by the President in Ceremonial Pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkey
The Rose Garden

President's Remarks

      The Annual Pardoning of the Thanksgiving Turkey

1:26 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon and welcome to the Rose Garden. I'm glad you all are here.

I see the turkey standing there. (Laughter.) He looks a little nervous, doesn't he? (Laughter.) He probably thinks he's going to have a press conference. (Laughter.)

I really appreciate you coming to watch me give this bird a Presidential pardon. I'm especially glad to see all the young people who are here; thank you for coming -- and such wonderful looking costumes. We welcome the Boys and Girls Clubs, the Boy Scouts and school students from the Washington, D.C. area. Thanks for coming to the White House.

I wish my dog, Barney, was here. (Laughter.) But I'm afraid Barney would have met his match with that turkey. (Laughter.) So we kept him inside.

I want to thank the Secretary of Agriculture for coming. Ann, it's great to see you. I appreciate all our distinguished guests for being here. I particularly want to thank Ron Prestage, who is the chairman of the National Turkey Federation. It turns out his dad, Bill, was the chairman of the National Turkey Federation. We kind of like father and son combos around here. (Laughter.) It's also good to have Alice Johnson with us, as well. Thank you all for coming.

The Thanksgiving Proclamation which I signed this morning is a Presidential tradition which began with George Washington. The days of Thanksgiving are an American tradition. We've observed this tradition since the Pilgrims. Americans have always been a grateful people: we're grateful for our freedom; we're grateful for our families; we're grateful for our beautiful country.

Each year at Thanksgiving we gather in that spirit to count our blessings and to share those blessings with our families and with others. On this holiday, American families will be thinking of loved ones far from home -- especially members of our military, who defend our country.

We remember those in other lands who suffer under oppression, who long for freedom and we pray that they might one day live in a world at peace and in a free society. And in this nation of many faiths, we ask that the Almighty God continue to bless us and to watch over us.

And now, as we look to our national Day of Thanksgiving, I have the honor of carrying out an important Presidential tradition. The bird's name is Katie. (Laughter.) Ron, it was awfully nice of you to name that bird after your daughter. It's a high honor to be named -- to have that turkey named after your child. And it's a fine looking turkey. (Laughter.)

By virtue of this pardon, Katie is on her way not to the dinner table, but to Kidwell Farm in Herndon, Virginia. There she'll live out her days as safe and comfortable as she can be.

Thank you all for coming, happy Thanksgiving. I look forward to having a conversation with Katie. Let's do it. (Applause.)

All right, thank you all for coming. Happy Thanksgiving.

END 1:35 P.M. EST

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