Joe Biden helps Liberty & Bell dodge Thanksgiving knife.
The turkeys were unveiled at a news conference held in Washington.
The tradition of pardoning Thanksgiving turkeys has a debated historical origin.
President Joe Biden granted clemency to two turkeys, Liberty and Bell, during a ceremony at the White House on Monday, ensuring their exemption from this year’s Thanksgiving feast in keeping with the beloved Thanksgiving custom.
The turkeys, originating from a farm in Minnesota, were unveiled at a news conference held at Washington’s Willard InterContinental Hotel on Sunday, attracting crowds and camera flashes.
Liberty and Bell, part of the “Presidential Flock” hatched over four months ago in Willmar, Minn., were specially trained to adapt to crowds, cameras, music, and loud noises in preparation for their public debut.
Paying homage to the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, the turkeys retired to a comfortable double-bed suite after their grand entrance.
Beyond the festive atmosphere, the event aimed to highlight the agricultural industry and the dedication of turkey farmers, as emphasized by Steve Lykken, NTF chairman and president of Jennie-O Turkey Store. The pardoned turkeys are destined to reside at the University of Minnesota after leaving Washington.
Reflecting on the event’s significance, Lykken noted, “This event certainly for us is an opportunity to recognize the really hard work of turkey farmers and men and women throughout animal agriculture and the turkey industry, and this is no exception.”
The tradition of pardoning Thanksgiving turkeys has a debated historical origin, with some attributing it to President Harry S Truman in 1947, while others speculate about President Abraham Lincoln’s involvement in 1863, a story considered a legend by the White House.
The first documented turkey pardon occurred in 1963 when President John F. Kennedy granted clemency to a turkey, gaining broader popularity in 1989 when President George H.W. Bush pardoned a turkey.
Continuing the tradition, Biden injected humor and granted amnesty to turkeys named Chocolate and Chip last year.