Biden Pardons National Thanksgiving Turkeys on His 81st Birthday

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Liberty and Bell Turkeys have a new appreciation for the phrase, “Let freedom ring.” Thanksgiving birds played their part Monday in an annual White House tradition: a president issuing pardons and spurring them from being dinner someone has a holiday.

This year, the event coincided with President Joe Biden’s 81st birthday. First, Biden – the oldest president in US history – wanted to make light of his age.

“By the way, today is my birthday,” the president said, noting that guests with him in the Oval Office before the event sang “Co- happy birthday “I just want you to know, turning 60 is hard. Hard.”

He also noted that the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation to the White House has been a tradition for more than seven decades.

“This is the 76th anniversary of this event, and I want you to know that I was not there … for the first one,” Biden said.

Biden Pardons National Thanksgiving Turkeys on His 81st Birthday
WASHINGTON DC, UNITED STATES – NOVEMBER 20: United States President Joe Biden (R) attends the National Turkey Thanksgiving Ceremony at the White House in Washington DC, United States on November 20, 2023. (Photo by Celal Gunes/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Biden Says Turks Overcame “Tough Odds”

Before issuing the pardon, Biden said Liberty and Bell were originally from Minnesota. However, they are named for the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.

“These birds have a new understanding of the word, ‘let freedom ring,'” he said, adding that they love honey apples, ice hockey, a thousand lakes, and the Mall of America — everything which the Midwest state is famous for.

They overcame “something tough” to make it to the White House, Biden continued, saying, “They had to work hard to show patience and be willing to travel more than a mile.”

Hundreds of guests, including Cabinet secretaries and White House staffers who brought children, watched from the South Lawn as Biden kicked off the unofficial start of Washington’s holiday season. Her granddaughter, Maisy Biden, was watching from the sidelines with her half-brother, Beau Biden. After the ceremony, Beau was brought over to pet one of the turkeys.

Steve Lykken, chairman of the National Turkey Federation and president of the Jennie-O Turkey Store, told The Associated Press in an interview last week that the pardons are “a great way to start the holiday season and for – Really, really fun honor. “

Lykken introduced Liberty and Bell on Sunday at the Willard Intercontinental, a luxury hotel near the White House. The gobblers entered a row there on Saturday after arriving on the red carpet in the US capital. The trip from Minnesota in a black Cadillac Escalade took a couple of days.

“They were raised like all our turkeys, protected, of course, from extreme weather and predators, free to roam with constant access to water and feed,” Lykken said Sunday as Liberty and Bell a Willard’s walk around the Crystal Room restored him. plastic sheeting placed over the carpet.

The male turkeys, both about 20 weeks old and about 42 pounds (19 kilograms), were born in July in Willmar, Minnesota. Jennie-O’s headquarters are there. The turkeys were part of the “presidential herd,” Lykken said. They listened to music and other sounds to prepare them for Monday’s hoopla at the White House.

“They listened to all kinds of music to prepare for the crowd and the people on the way. I can confirm that they are, indeed, Swifties, and they like some Prince,” Lykken said, implying that Liberty and Bell are fans of Taylor Swift. “I think they are absolutely ready for prime time. “

More on Thanksgiving Traditions

The tradition dates back to 1947 when the National Turkey Federation presented a National Thanksgiving Turkey to President Harry Truman. Back then, and even earlier, the gobbler was given for the family’s first holiday wear.

But by the end of the 1980s, the tradition had evolved into a very funny show where the birds would get a second chance in life.

Liberty and Bell will now be under the auspices of the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources.

President Biden Pardons National Thanksgiving Turkeys on His 81st Birthday
Turkeys Liberty and Bell (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
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