Thanksgiving Day: The first White House turkey pardon was issued in 1963 by President John F Kennedy
In the spirit of a cherished Thanksgiving tradition, President Joe Biden pardoned two turkeys, named Liberty and Bell, on Monday at the White House, ensuring their exemption from this year’s Thanksgiving feast.
The birds, which come from a farm in Minnesota, were unveiled at a press conference at Washington’s Willard InterContinental Hotel on Sunday, drawing crowds and camera flashes.
Liberty and Bell, part of the “Presidential Swarm” hatched more than four months ago in Willmar, Minn., were trained to acclimate to crowds, cameras, music and loud noises before their public introduction. Named in homage to the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, the turkeys retired to a comfortable double bed suite after their grand entrance.
In addition to the lighthearted atmosphere, the event highlighted the agricultural industry and the efforts of turkey farmers, as Steve Lykken, NTF president and president of the Jennie-O Turkey Store, pointed out. The pardoned turkeys are to be housed at the University of Minnesota after they leave Washington.
Reflecting on the significance of the event, Lykken said: “This event is definitely an opportunity for us to recognize the really hard work of turkey farmers and the men and women throughout the livestock and turkey industry, and this is no exception. “
The tradition of forgiving Thanksgiving turkeys has a controversial historical origin. Some attribute it to President Harry S. Truman in 1947, while others speculate that President Abraham Lincoln may have given a turkey a reprieve in 1863, though the White House considers this story a legend. The first documented turkey pardon was in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy, and gained wider popularity in 1989 when President George H.W. Bush pardoned a turkey.
Last year, Biden continued the tradition of humor and amnesty for turkeys called Chocolate and Chip.
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