Thursday, 22 November 2012

On this Day: 22nd November 2012- Thanksgiving: Presidential Pardon or One for the Pot?

Every year shortly before Thanksgiving The President of the United States is presented with a live turkey (two in fact as one is a spare) but since 1989 during the first Thanksgiving of President George H. W. Bush, a tradition has started where president has granted the turkey a "presidential pardon" and thus spared it from being eaten.

The origins of pardoning the White House turkey however are about as unclear as the future of the birds which are spared the chop! Most Thanksgiving turkeys are bred and raised for size at the expense of longer life so are prone to have very short lives after being spared.

Many credit President Harry Truman (above) with starting the tradition in 1947, however, the Truman Library says that no documents, speeches, newspaper clippings, photographs or other contemporary records are known to exist that specify that he ever "pardoned" a turkey. The Eisenhower Presidential Library says documents in their collection reveal that President Dwight Eisenhower ate the birds presented to him during his two terms. President John F. Kennedy spontaneously spared a turkey on Nov. 19, 1963, just days before his assassination, but did not grant a "pardon." The bird was wearing a sign reading, "Good Eatin' Mr. President." Kennedy responded, "Let's just keep him."

Since 1989 when the custom of 'pardoning' the turkey was formalized, the turkey has been taken to a farm where it lives out the rest of its natural life. For many years the turkeys were sent to the not so aptly named Frying Pan Park in Fairfax County, Virginia but between 2005 to 2009, the pardoned turkeys were sent to the sunnier climates of either the Disneyland Resort in California or the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, where they served as the honorary grand marshals of Disney's Thanksgiving Day Parade. This year’s birds Cobbler and Gobbler, will follow their predecessors Peace and Liberty and Apple and Cider who were sent to live at Mount Vernon, the estate and home of America’s first President George Washington.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!

Photo Legacy: Making your memories last forever

Images courtesy of The U.S. National Archives on Flickr under the Commons Agreement

Research courtesy of Wikipedia


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