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Bush Pardons Thanksgiving Turkeys

Thursday is the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. So it is time for the American president to take part in the annual ritual of sparing the life of the National Thanksgiving Turkey. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

Turkey is the traditional meal at Thanksgiving. And yet every holiday for the last 60 years, at least one bird has escaped the butcher's axe with a ceremonial White House pardon.

This year, two National Thanksgiving Turkeys traveled from the Midwest state of Indiana for President Bush to spare their lives in the Rose Garden. "May they live the rest of their lives in blissful gobbling and may all Americans enjoy a holiday full of love and peace."

After their pardon, the two turkeys flew first class to Disney World where they will be the honorary grand marshals of the Florida amusement park's Thanksgiving Day parade. The birds, named May and Flower, will retire to a petting zoo at the park.

In his remarks, President Bush gave thanks for a good harvest, a strong economy, and the courage of the men and women of the U.S. military.

"They have worn proudly the uniform of our country. They have offered their lives in our defense. And each year, thousands more volunteer to join their noble ranks to keep us safe. And so on this Thanksgiving we keep their families and their loved ones in our prayers and in our thoughts."

The president and Mrs. Bush will spend the Thanksgiving holiday at the presidential retreat at Camp David.