WASHINGTON – After 10 months in office, President Barack Obama granted his first pardon Wednesday to “Courage,” a 45-pound turkey spared from the Thanksgiving table.
Accompanied by daughters Sasha and Malia, Obama stood under the North Portico of the White House to honor a holiday tradition that dates to 1947 — receiving a bird from the National Turkey Federation.
“I’m told Presidents Eisenhower and Johnson actually ate their turkeys,” Obama said. “You can’t fault them for that; that’s a good-looking bird.”
President George H.W. Bush was the first to officially pardon a turkey.
Obama joked about wanting to forgo the tradition and eat “Courage.”
“Thanks to the interventions of Malia and Sasha — because I was planning to eat this sucker — ‘Courage’ will also be spared this terrible and delicious fate,” he said.
Obama said he wished all American service members at home and abroad a happy Thanksgiving, saying it is a “tremendous honor it is to serve as commander in chief of the finest military in the world.”
He also spoke about the first family‘s plans for the holiday dinner.
“Just like millions of other families across America, we’ll take time to give our thanks for many blessings,” Obama said. “We’ll also remember this is a time when so many members of our American family are hurting.”
Obama noted that President Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving a holiday in the midst of the Civil War, “when the future of our very union was most in doubt.”
“This is an era of new perils and new hardships,” he added. “So on this quintessentially American holiday, as we give thanks for what we’ve got, let’s also give back to those who are less fortunate.”
After his remarks, the turkey was lifted to a table and Obama raised his hand over its head to deliver a mock-serious pardon.
“You are hereby pardoned,” he said.
Obama said “Courage” will get to spend the rest of his life in “peace and tranquility” at Disneyland.