News / USA

Obama Pardons Thanksgiving Turkey

President Barack Obama, with daughters Sasha (l) and Malia carries on the Thanksgiving tradition of saving a turkey from the dinner table with a "presidential pardon," Nov. 21, 2012, in the Rose Garden of the White House.President Barack Obama, with daughters Sasha (l) and Malia carries on the Thanksgiving tradition of saving a turkey from the dinner table with a "presidential pardon," Nov. 21, 2012, in the Rose Garden of the White House.
x
President Barack Obama, with daughters Sasha (l) and Malia carries on the Thanksgiving tradition of saving a turkey from the dinner table with a "presidential pardon," Nov. 21, 2012, in the Rose Garden of the White House.
President Barack Obama, with daughters Sasha (l) and Malia carries on the Thanksgiving tradition of saving a turkey from the dinner table with a "presidential pardon," Nov. 21, 2012, in the Rose Garden of the White House.
Kent Klein
Although millions of Americans will eat turkey on Thursday, November 22,  as part of their Thanksgiving holiday feast, President Barack Obama has spared two special turkeys. President Obama took part on Wednesday in the lighthearted annual tradition of the presidential turkey pardon.

The president entered the Rose Garden in a jovial mood, comparing the reprieve he was about to give the turkeys with his own reelection earlier this month.   

“They say that life is all about second chances.  And this November, I could not agree more.  So in the spirit of the season, I have one more gift to give, and it goes to a pair of turkeys named Cobbler and Gobbler," said President Obama.

The White House turkey pardon is the unofficial start of Thanksgiving celebrations.  As Obama told guests and reporters, the holiday is dedicated to expressions of gratitude.
 
“Tomorrow, in the company of friends and loved ones, we will celebrate a uniquely American holiday.  And it is a chance for us to spend time with the people we care about, and to give thanks for the blessings that we enjoy," said Obama.

The president reminded Americans to think of those who are less fortunate, including those affected by the recent devastation of Hurricane Sandy.

“In the last few weeks, I had a chance to visit both New Jersey and New York.  And while I have seen entire neighborhoods reduced to rubble and heartbreaking loss and devastation, I have yet to find a broken spirit," he said.

Also on the president’s agenda Wednesday was a trip to a local food bank, where he and his family delivered turkeys for those in need.

The main turkey being pardoned was named Cobbler, and the alternate, Gobbler.  Both are 19-month-old, 18-kilogram turkeys.  The names were chosen by children from Rockingham County, Virginia, where the turkeys were raised.

For the first time, the American public chose which of the two birds would be the National Thanksgiving Turkey through a vote on the White House Facebook page.

The “turkey pardon” tradition is said to have begun with President Abraham Lincoln.  It is said he was presented with a turkey for Christmas in 1863.  But his son developed a liking for the bird and the president decided to keep it.

Many presidents have been presented with Thanksgiving turkeys, but the annual custom of “pardoning” the bird was formalized by President George H. W. Bush in 1989.

The American Turkey Federation estimates that Americans ate 46 million turkeys last Thanksgiving.  Despite slightly higher prices this year, turkey sales are up, according to John Anderson, an economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“Prices for turkeys have been pretty good.  They have been up a little bit, compared to a year ago.  If you look at the availability of turkeys, we have actually had pretty good turkey production, some increase in turkey production, it looks like, this year.  So the higher price, along with the higher production, suggests that demand for turkeys has been pretty good," said Anderson.

Cobbler and Gobbler will not be among the turkeys consumed this Thanksgiving.  The night before their White House appearance, the birds stayed in a suite at Washington’s posh W Hotel.  They will spend the rest of their lives in a custom-made enclosure on the farm at Mount Vernon, the Virginia estate of the first U.S. president, George Washington.

You May Like

Australia Knights Prince Philip, Sparking National Outrage

Abbott's surprise reintroduction of knights and dames in the country's honors system last year drew criticism that he was out of touch with national sentiment More

SAG Award Boosts 'Birdman' Oscar Hopes

Individual acting Oscars appear to be sewn up: SAG awards went to artists who won Golden Globes: Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons More

Katy Perry Lights Way for Super Bowl's Girl Power Moment

Pop star's selection to headline US football championship's halftime show extends NFL's trend of selecting artists who appeal to younger viewers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sidesi
X
June Soh
January 23, 2015 10:03 PM
The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid