For the seventh time during the Obama presidency, President Obama pardoned the National Thanksgiving Turkey on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day in a Rose Garden ceremony at the White House. In a tradition dating back to 1947, the president pardons a turkey, sparing the tom — and his alternate — from becoming a Thanksgiving Day feast. This year, President Obama pardoned “Honest” and its alternate “Abe,” both 18-week old, 40-pound turkeys. The names of the turkeys were chosen from submissions from California school children.
The President is often in good spirits and good humor, this time taking a little jab at the GOP field of candidates. “As you may have heard, for months, there has been a fierce competition between a bunch of turkeys trying to win their way into the White House,” the President said to the accompanying laughter.
“Some of you caught that,” added the President with a laugh. “Well, today, I can announce that the American people have spoken, and we have two winners. Their names are Honest and Abe. I confess that Honest looks like good eating. But this is a democracy. Abe is now a free bird.”
In another bit of humor, President Obama said, “He is TOTUS –- the Turkey of the United States,” to more laughter and applause. “Yes. Simas, is he attacking you? Are you okay? My political director is getting pecked by TOTUS.”
During this annual event, President Obama’s daughters have stood by to watch the pardon and America has watched them grow up. Obama thanked his daughters. “By the way, can I just — I am going to publicly thank Malia and Sasha for, once again, standing here with me during the Turkey Pardon,” said Obama. “They do this solely because it makes me feel good. Not because they actually think that this is something I should be doing. And as you get older, you appreciate when your kids just indulge you like this, so I’m very grateful.”
According to the White House, the turkeys pardoned by President Obama will be on display for visitors at their permanent home at Morven Park’s “Turkey Hill,” the historic turkey farm located at the home of former Virginia Governor Westmoreland Davis (1918-1922) in Leesburg, Virginia. Both birds were raised in the Central Valley of California under the supervision of National Turkey Federation Chairman Dr. Jihad Douglas.
The National Turkey Federation will bring two turkeys from Jaindl Farms for the First Family to donate. These turkeys will be given to Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, DC.
After the Rose Garden ceremony, the first family served a traditional Thanksgiving meal to homeless vets at Friendship Place in the basement of St. Luke’s church in NW. Friendship Place has services for homeless vets, and is located in basement of 1950s brick building.
The first family was lined up behind a long table giving out the traditional thanksgiving fare. Marian Robinson ladled out the Mac & Cheese. Sasha was charged with stuffing and cranberry sauce. FLOTUS, unsurprisingly, handled veggies. Malia stood between her mom and dad and gave out fluffy mashed potatoes. President Obama used his presidential prerogative to serve the turkey and top it off with gravy for hungry visitors. He wore a black shirt and brown pants. The whole family wore rubber globes while they served the food. Recipients were nicely dressed in casual clothing.
The White House pool heard the President say to one man, “Thank you, sir.” Obama also told another veteran, “We appreciate you.”