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Bush Pardons Thanksgiving Turkeys


U.S. President George Bush is preparing for America's Thanksgiving holiday with the traditional pardon of two turkeys. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

Flyer and Fryer Turkey are not avian counterfeiters. Or international grain kingpins. The two white birds have committed no known crime against man or beast. Their only offense? Being turkeys the day before the Thanksgiving holiday when Americans traditionally eat turkey.

But unlike millions of other less fortunate birds, Flyer and Fryer were spared the chopping block and won pardons from President Bush.

"This morning I am granting a full presidential pardon so they can live out their lives as safe as can be," the president announced.

The birds, from the Midwest state of Missouri, are on their way to California where they will be the honorary Grand Marshals of the Thanksgiving Day parade at the Disneyland theme park.

This was the 59th presidential pardon of the National Thanksgiving Turkey, an event organized by the men and women who raise turkeys.

In the Rose Garden ceremony, President Bush said the holiday is a time for all Americans to be grateful for their blessings.

"In our journey across the centuries, from a few tiny settlements to a prosperous and powerful nation, Americans have always been a grateful people," he noted. "And we are this year as well. We are grateful for our beautiful land. We are grateful for a harvest big enough to feed us all, plus much of the world. We are grateful for our freedom. We are grateful for our families. And we are grateful for life itself."

Mr. Bush thanked members of the U.S. military who he says have set aside their own comfort and safety to defend the nation.

The president and Mrs. Bush will spend the Thanksgiving holiday at the presidential retreat of Camp David in the mountains outside the nation's capital.

They return to Washington Saturday before leaving for Estonia and Latvia, where the president will take part in a summit of the NATO alliance.

He will also travel to Jordan for a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.