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Video: Obama pardons Thanksgiving turkey

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    >> this year's turkey . his name is courage. he traveled here from goldburough, north carolina , where he was raised under walter's precious care. there you go! now, the national turkey federation has been bringing its finest turkeys to the white house for more than 50 years. i'm told president icen houser eisen house haus eisen hauser and johnson ate their turkeys. president kennedy was even given a turkey with a sign around its neck that said, "good eating, mr. president." but he showed mercy and he said let's keep them going. twenty years ago, this thanksgiving, the first president bush issued the first official president pardon for a turkey . today, i'm pleased to announce that thanks to the interventions of malia and sasha , because i was planning to eat this sucker, courage will also be spaered this terrible and delicious fate. later today , he'll head to disneyland where he are -- where he will be grand marshal of the parade. in case he can't fulfill his responsibilities, walter brought another turkey , carolina, as an alternate, the stand-in. later this afternoon, michelle, sash a and malia and i will help folks in d.c. who need it most. i want to thank the turkey farm in orfield, pennsylvania, for donating those dressed birds for dinner. so, today, all told, i believe it's fair to say that we have saved or created four turkeys. you know, 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 . but every single day, i am thankful for the extraordinary responsibility that the american people have placed in me. i am humbled by the privilege that it is to serve them and the tremendous honor it is to serve as commander in chief of the finest military in the world and i want to wish a happy thanksgiving to every service member at home or in harm's way. we're proud of you and we are thinking of you and we're praying for you. when my family and i sit around the table tomorrow, just like millions of other families across america , we'll take time to give our thanks for many blessings. but we'll also remember this is a time when so many members of our american family are hurting. there's no question this has been a tough year for america . we're at war. our economy is emerging from an extraordinary recession into recovery, but there's a long way to go and a lot of work to do. in more tranquil times, it's easy to notice our many blessings, it's even easier to take them for granted, but in times like these, they resonate a bit more powerfully. when president lincoln set aside the national day of thanksgiving for the first time, to celebrate america 's fruitful fields, helpful sxis skies and the strength and vigor of the american people , it was in the midst of the civil war , just when the future of our very union was most in doubt. so think about that. when times were darkest, president lincoln understood that our american blessings shined better than ever. this is an era of new perils and new hardships, but we are, as ever, a people of endless compassion, boundless ingenuity and limitless strength. where the error to hard-earned history and stewards of a land of got-given beauty. we are americans. and for all this, we give our humble thanks to our predecessors, to one another and to god. so on this quintessentially american holiday , as we give thanks for what we've got, let's also give back to those who are less fortunate. as we give thanks for our loved ones , let us remember those who can't be with us and as we give thanks for our security, let's, in turn, thank those who have sacrificed to make it possible, wherever they may be. now, before this turkey gets too nervous, that bo will escape and screw up this pardon, or before i change my mind, i hereby pardon courage so he can live out the rest of his days in peace and tranquility in disneyland . for every american, i want to wish you, on behalf of my shelf, malia , sasha and michelle, the happiest of thanksgivings. thank you very much, everybody.

    >> this is the official pardon here. all right?

    >> whoa. all right. is there official gesture? coura courage, you are hereby pardon. you will live. in disneyland .

    >> do you want to pet it some.

    >> sure.

    >> ah!

    >> all right.

    >> he's like a large chicken.

    >> he is like a large chicken. all right. i don't know about the haircut, though. thank you very much.

    >> thank you. can my wife come up?

    >> absolutely. hey, guys, come on up here. this thanksgiving, got to get the whole family up here.

    >> hour?

    >> good.

    >> so nice to see you.

    >> mr. president, good to meet you.

    >> good to see you, chris. that's a good-looking bird. how many pounds on this bird?

    >> about 45.

    >> this is a 45-pound turkey . that would feed a lot of folks. all right.

    >> president obama , this is the family that raised the turkey .

    >> well, it's great to see you guys. what did you feed this guy? the right stuff? all right. no performance-enhancing drugs or anything?

    >> no. thank you very much, everybody.

    >> there you have it. the official pardon of courage, the turkey is now headed to disney london. monica, sasha and malia with the president to give that pardon. at one point in time malia said it looks like a really big chicken . sasha could not keep her eyes off the turkey . like so many children, i imagine it was the proximity. real life 45-pound turkey . the president pardoning courage. it's a little light moment there. the president obviously acknowledging the military families who will, perhaps, be without their loved ones who are serving abroad on this holiday. also wishing all americans a happy thanksgiving.

    >>> president obama will announce his

updated 11/25/2009 12:48:54 PM ET 2009-11-25T17:48:54

After 10 months in office, President Barack Obama granted his first pardon Wednesday to "Courage," a 45-pound turkey spared from the Thanksgiving table.

Accompanied by daughters Sasha and Malia, Obama stood under the North Portico of the White House to honor a holiday tradition that dates to 1947 — receiving a bird from the National Turkey Federation.

"I'm told Presidents Eisenhower and Johnson actually ate their turkeys," Obama said. "You can't fault them for that; that's a good-looking bird."

President George H.W. Bush was the first to officially pardon a turkey.

Obama joked about wanting to forgo the tradition and eat "Courage."

"Thanks to the interventions of Malia and Sasha — because I was planning to eat this sucker — 'Courage' will also be spared this terrible and delicious fate," he said.

Obama said he wished all American service members at home and abroad a happy Thanksgiving, saying it is a "tremendous honor it is to serve as commander in chief of the finest military in the world."

He also spoke about the first family's plans for the holiday dinner.

"Just like millions of other families across America, we'll take time to give our thanks for many blessings," Obama said. "We'll also remember this is a time when so many members of our American family are hurting."

Obama noted that President Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving a holiday in the midst of the Civil War, "when the future of our very union was most in doubt."

"This is an era of new perils and new hardships," he added. "So on this quintessentially American holiday, as we give thanks for what we've got, let's also give back to those who are less fortunate."

After his remarks, the turkey was lifted to a table and Obama raised his hand over its head to deliver a mock-serious pardon.

"You are hereby pardoned," he said.

Obama said "Courage" will get to spend the rest of his live in "peace and tranquility" at Disneyland.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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