Thanks to Turkey: Biden will grant justice to Turkey as Liberty and Bell take the gravy train to the White House

By | November 20, 2023

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Two turkeys, named Liberty and Bell, who will attend the annual presidential pardon at the White House, attend a news conference November 19, 2023 at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington.


Liberty arrived at the White House to demand justice.

President Joe Biden presided over the annual turkey pardoning tradition at the White House for Thanksgiving on Monday, sparing Liberty, a 42.5-pound turkey, and Bell, 42.1 pounds, in a brief respite from the global crises facing his administration.

Liberty and Bell were roasted – but only metaphorically – by the president on the South Lawn of the White House. This annual occasion is a chance to make a cornucopia of poultry jokes – and give thanks as the festive season begins.

“These birds have a new appreciation for the word ‘Let Liberty Ring,'” Biden told an audience that included children of his staff and Cabinet members, local schoolchildren and others.

“It’s a big bird, man. I’m impressed,” Biden said as one of the turkeys fidgeted on a table. “I hereby forgive Liberty and Bell. Congratulations, birds.

As Americans gather around their Thanksgiving tables this year, the price of the average meal is down from its all-time high, signaling some relief from soaring inflation. The average cost of the holiday is down about 4.5 percent from last year, according to the American Farm Bureau. annual survey, giving the White House some good news to talk about.

Rumors of pardons for Turkey date back to presidential history and the administration of Abraham Lincoln. Legend has it that Lincoln’s young son asked his father to spare him a pet turkey that was supposed to be part of their Thanksgiving dinner.

Competition for delivery became national news in the 1920s, when a Texas turkey sent to Woodrow Wilson in a crate shaped like the White House fought in front of the White House with a Kentucky turkey. The Kentucky bird emerged victorious, according to the White House Historical Association.

The National Turkey Foundation became the official turkey supplier to the First Family in 1947, and the official turkey presentation ceremony has existed since Harry Truman. Truman was the first to accept a turkey from the group – but he didn’t spare it.

The first documented pardon of a turkey was granted by John F. Kennedy in 1963, although it was not immediately adopted. Even though Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon, neither of them decided to pardon turkeys as president.

Pardoning Turkey became the norm in 1989, when George HW Bush revived the tradition, now a staple of White House holiday celebrations.

Biden’s more recent predecessors peppered their pardons with turkey and other topical political puns.

Last year, after the midterm elections, Biden joked that the two birds were part of “another flock hoping to come to Washington in 2024.”

“The votes have arrived, they have been counted and verified, no ballot stuffing, no chicken playing. The only red wave this season will be if the commanding German Shepherd spills the cranberry sauce,” he said.

Donald Trump mocked the impeachment inquiry launched against him in 2019, tell a crowd that the turkeys “have already received subpoenas in Adam Schiff’s basement,” referring to the Democratic congressman from California.

And Barack Obama used his signature rhetoric: “I want to take a moment to recognize the big turkeys who weren’t so lucky, who weren’t able to ride the gravy train to freedom. Who faced their fate with courage and sacrifice and proved that they were not chickens.

“Yes, our heads are in the air,” Obama added.

Hatched in July, this year’s birds were raised in a barn by Jennie-O in Willmar, Minnesota. They took the gravy train to the nation’s capital this week, traveling nearly 20 hours over three days in a “makeshift enclosure” in a Cadillac Escalade, said Steve Lykken – president of the National Turkey Federation and president of the Jennie-O Turkey Store. CNN in an interview. Lykken described the drivers as “seasoned individuals” with experience handling turkeys.

They were chosen from their flock for their outgoing behavior and were prepared for Monday’s pardoning ceremony by being exposed to sounds such as clapping and music at different volumes, Lykken said.

The duo arrived in Washington this weekend and are staying at the luxurious Willard InterContinental, just steps from the White House, where pardoned turkeys have been resting and ruffling their feathers for more than a decade. They participated in a news conference on Sunday where their names were officially revealed, strutting and shouting in front of a podium.

“They checked in, they went up to their rooms, they saw the map with what to do in the city, they took a bubble bath and I heard they also had something in the minibar,” said Markus Platzer, hotel manager. general manager.

Lykken told press conference attendees that the Birds were “absolutely ready for prime time.”

Following the ceremony, Liberty and Bell will return to their home state and retire to the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resources Sciences.

“I know they will receive the highest level of care from the experts and will enjoy their time,” Lykken said.

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