It’s official. Turkeys “Liberty” and “Peace” are spared from the Thanksgiving table.
President Obama stepped out onto the North Portico today holding hands with daughters Sasha and Malia to pardon two birds designated National Thanksgiving Turkeys, a presidential ritual performed annually for the past 64 years.
Thanksgiving is “one of the best days of the year to be an American,” Obama said. “But it’s also one of the worst days to be a turkey.”
Wandering around and looking confused on the stage to Obama’s right was the gobbler “Liberty.” His alternate “Peace” was inside and not to be seen.
The president kidded his audience and the media that today’s ceremony was part of his campaign to take actions that don’t require congressional approval.
“Well, here’s another one,” he said, “we can’t wait to pardon these turkeys.”
His campaign slogan is “We Can’t Wait.”
Both of the 19-week-old, 45-pound turkeys hail from Willmar, Minn. The names for the birds were chosen from more than 100 submissions to the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association’s website that highlighted the National Thanksgiving Turkey, according to the White House.
Obama said local high school students helped prepare the birds for their trip to the nation’s capital, exposing them to loud noises, flashing blubs and teaching them how to “gobble without really saying anything,” jokingly alluding to the skill of avoiding straight answers to questions by the press corps.
But the president’s message wasn’t purely one of humor. He expressed thanks to all men and women serving in the U.S. military, and encouraged Americans to take time to reflect on their blessings and offer help to those in need.
It’s important to “be grateful for what we have, be mindful of those who have less,” Obama said.
He and the first family will participate in a service project in Washington, D.C., later today.
“Even when times are tough,” Obama said, “we look out for each other.”