Lucky Turkey! President Obama Spares a Thanksgiving Bird from Dinner Table

Obama gives presidential pardon to a turkey named Courage.

ByABC News
November 24, 2009, 2:15 PM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 25, 2009— -- At the White House today, President Obama gave one lucky turkey a second chance at life, saving it from ending up as Thanksgiving dinner.

Obama issued a presidential pardon to Courage, a 20-week-old, 45-pound turkey from Princeton, N.C .

The president, joined by daughters Sasha and Malia at his side, told a crowd of invited guests at the White House this morning that some presidents actually ate their turkeys.

"You can't fault them for that. It's a good lookin' bird," Obama said.

"Today I'm pleased to announce thanks to the intervention of Malia and Sasha – because I was ready to eat this sucker – Courage will also be spared this terrible and delicious fate."

Each year more than 45 million turkeys end up on Thanksgiving dinner tables across the United States, according to the National Turkey Federation. And every year since 1947, according to historians, one lucky bird has been spared that fate due to a presidential pardon.

Presidential historian Richard Norton Smith told ABC News that while the Constitution does not enumerate the presidential power of a turkey pardon, the annual event is one of the ceremonial functions that have developed over the years and is now part of this country's Thanksgiving tradition.

"I suspect it's not one of the reasons why people spend two years of their lives in Holiday Inns running for the presidency," Smith said. "But along with war and peace and recession and Supreme Court nominations you get to pardon a turkey every year."

"I hereby pardon Courage so that he can live out the rest of his days in peace and tranquility in Disneyland," Mr. Obama said, looking over at the white-feathered bird.

If for some reason Courage the Turkey was not able to live up to his "official duties" (which essentially consisted of sitting there and not biting the president), an alternate, Carolina, was nearby and ready to step in.

Later today, the two turkeys will enjoy a luxurious first-class flight to freedom -- in their case, Southern California where they will take part in the Thanksgiving Day parade at Disneyland on Thursday.

Courage will serve as the parade's honorary grand marshal, and the two turkeys then will live out their days at the park's Frontierland.