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The Presidential Turkey Pardon: A History Of Going Easy On One Bird Every Year


Traditions provide interesting insight into the people and cultures that gave rise to them. For example, nothing explains Costanza's father more aptly than his favorite holiday: Festivus. In the United States, we also follow a strange tradition around Thanksgiving time: the annual pardon of turkeys by the President of the United States.

Unofficially, the apology for the other white meat began with Honest Abe. Apparently, the skinny abolitionist saved a turkey's life after his son became fond of that particular bird, and was an avid bird lover himself. However, the official pardon of the centerpiece of Thanksgiving dates back only to the first Bush administration. Let's take a look at the relatively brief but decidedly strange history of the turkey pardon.


A Publicity Pardon

After Lincoln's pardon, several presidents made a show of receiving their Thanksgiving bird. From Truman to Wilson, past commander-in-chiefs happily posed for photos with their extremely temporary new pets, but none of the birds ever received a real apology. They all ended up at the first dining table as per custom.


One of JFK's Last Apologies

It was John F. Kennedy who first publicly closed the execution of his Thanksgiving dinner-to-be. On November 19, 1963, Kennedy's chosen turkey posed for pictures with his savior, accompanied by a somewhat confusing sign that read "Good eating, Mr. President." You could say it was an important month for Kennedy.


Turkey's fate remained unknown

After Kennedy, Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Reagan all enjoyed a photo op with their "honored guests" held during the annual turkey press conference, but it was unlikely that any of the blessed beneficiaries would see the pumpkin pie. lived for a long time. , Still, if the public was worried or downright curious about the fate of the birds, they didn't show it. Reagan even made fun of it during the Iran-Contra affair.


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