Monday, November 1, 2010


President Obama

   The National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation is an annual ceremony that takes place in the White House Rose Garden.  The tradition officially began in 1947, when members of the National Turkey Federation presented President Truman with the National Thanksgiving Turkey.  The ceremony allows the president to unofficially usher in the holiday season, and to reflect upon the meaning and value of the Thanksgiving holiday.  What makes this annual ritual so whimsical and memorable is that, for many years, the presidents has spared the life of the National Turkey by granting it a presidential "pardon".  Here are some fascinating facts about the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation.


President Clinton

  • It is believed that the tradition goes all the way back to the administration of President Abraham Lincoln.  As the story goes, President Lincoln spared the life of a turkey out of love and loyalty to his son, Tad, who wanted to keep it as a pet.


President Truman

  • There is no evidence that President Harry Truman ever pardoned a turkey.  Staffers at the Truman library have not been able to uncover any documents,speeches or newspaper clippings that prove otherwise. (even though he's pictured with one ) To the contrary, President Truman would often rib reporters by suggesting that the National Turkey would end up on the family dinner table.

President Reagan
  • There are differences of opinion regarding when the custom of "pardoning" the National Turkey began.  Some believe that it started with President Kennedy, others believe it was George H.W. Bush who "pardoned" the first Nation Turkey.

President Bush Sr.
  • Turkeys chosen to be candidates for the National Turkey are given VIP treatment.  They are separated from the flock, hand fed, and are trained to interact with people.  All this pampering and training helps to ensure that the National Turkey will be poised and well-behaved at the Rose Garden ceremony, that is what is hoped for, anyway.


President Nixon

  • A first runner up is always selected along with the Naitonal Thanksgiving Turkey.  This is done as a precaution just in case anything should happen that would prevent the National Turkey from fulfilling his duties and obligations. (possibly some nude photos from years ago will crop up)


President Ford
  • Believe it or not, for many years pardoned National Thanksgiving Turkeys and those selected as the first runner up lived out the remain years of their lives at Frying Pan Park in Fairfax County, Virginia.  Since 2005, however, they have been sent to the Disneyland Resort and Theme Park in Anaheim, California, where they become part of the holiday display and serve as honorary Grand Marshals for the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade.

President Bush Jr.
  • The White House has a contest on its web site for naming the National Thansgiving Turkey and the first runner up.  Members of the National Turkey Federation come up with a list of possible names, and the public votes for a pair of winners.  Winning names of the mast have included "Flyer and Fryer", "Marshmallow and Yam". and "Biscuits and Gravey".

President Kennedy