WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has pardoned two plump turkeys in an annual holiday rite.
The official national Thanksgiving turkey is a 19-week-old, 45-pound bird named Liberty. Its alternate, also spared, is a turkey of the same age and size named Peace. Both birds hail from Minnesota.
The president commented that Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday for people, but not for turkeys: "They don't have it so good."Video: Obama pardons national Thanksgiving turkey (on this page)
Obama jokingly cast his pardon as yet another executive action in a string of his "We Can't Wait" initiatives.
The origin of the presidential turkey pardon is a topic of some dispute. Harry Truman is often cited as the first president to have done it — in fact, President Bill Clinton even said so in his own 1997 pardoning ceremony — but the Truman Library has said they have no record of such an incident.Video: Travel alert: Packed planes on Thanksgiving
And Abraham Lincoln once pardoned a turkey that his son Tad had grown fond of — but that was a Christmas turkey.
According to the Los Angeles Times, it may actually have been President John F. Kennedy who issued the first presidential turkey pardon. A Times article dated Nov. 20, 1963, says that Kennedy took a look at a “frightened, panting” tom turkey wearing a sign around its neck reading “Good eating, Mr. President” and said, “We’ll just let this one grow.”Story: From entrée to dessert: Bobby Flay’s Thanksgiving recipes
As for Liberty and Peace, instead of landing on the White House dinner table, they’re headed to Mount Vernon, Va., where they’ll be part of a Christmas tourist attraction at George Washington’s historic home. After that, they’ll live out their days in peace (if not liberty) in a special enclosure.
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