Turkey Pardon Tradition Continues in 76th Year

Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 2:08 PM PST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The same day President Biden is celebrating his 81st birthday, two turkeys from Minnesota “Liberty” and “Bell” received the ultimate present — a presidential pardon that spares them from becoming someone’s Thanksgiving dinner.

“This is the 76th anniversary of this event. And I want you to know I wasn’t there. I was too young to make it up,” Biden joked.

On the South Lawn of the White House, the turkeys were presented to President Biden by the chairman of the National Turkey Federation. With much fanfare, the President used his presidential authority to issue pardons to the lucky birds who will live out the rest of their lives at the University of Minnesota.

“I hereby pardon Liberty and Bell. Congratulations birds!” said the President. He added, “These birds have a new appreciation of the words: ‘Let freedom ring.’”

Stories of turkeys being spared date back to the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. But the White House Historical Association notes the turkey pardon became an annual tradition in 1989 with President George H.W. Bush.

“Liberty” and “Bell” hail from Minnesota — which produces more turkeys than any other state.

President Obama once said Thanksgiving is one of the best days of the year to be an American. But it’s also one of the worst days of the year to be a turkey. But for “Liberty” and “Bell” this Thanksgiving already looks pretty good.