President Barack Obama today officially pardoned two turkeys as part of a Thanksgiving ritual but this time his nephews stood in place of his daughters who he said “still believe in bad puns”.
“Malia and Sasha, by the way, are thankful that this is my final presidential turkey pardon. What I haven’t told them yet is that we are going to do this every year from now on. No cameras. Just us. Every year. No way I’m cutting this habit cold turkey,” Obama said amidst laughter in the Rose Garden of the White House.
Obama appeared with two his nephews Austin and Aaron Robinson.
Obama said that Austin and Aaron, “who, unlike Malia and Sasha, have not yet been turned cynical by Washington”.
“They still believe in bad puns. They still appreciate the grandeur of this occasion. They still have hope,” he said.
This year he pardoned two turkeys – Tater and and its alternate Tot, both 18-week old, 40-pound turkeys.
As part of the naming process, Iowa school children submitted pairs of names for this year’s turkeys.
After the pardoning, the turkeys will be on display for visitors at their permanent home at Virginia Tech’s newly built ‘Gobblers Rest’ exhibit where they will be cared for by students and veterinarians in the university’s Animal and Poultry Sciences Department.
Both birds were raised in Northwest Iowa under the supervision of National Turkey Federation Chairman John Reicks.
“It is my great privilege actually, let’s just say it’s my job to grant them clemency this afternoon. As I do, I want to take a moment to recognise the brave turkeys who weren’t so lucky, who didn’t get to ride the gravy train to freedom who met their fate with courage and sacrifice — and proved that they weren’t chicken,” he said amidst laughter from the selected invited audience.
Thanksgiving, Obama said, is a reminder of the source of national strength — that out of many, they are one; that they are bound not by any one race or religion, but rather by an adherence to a common creed, that all of them are created equal.
“While accepting our differences and building a diverse society has never been easy, it has never been more important. We are a people that look out for one another and get each other’s backs. We keep moving forward, defined by values and ideals that have been a light to all humanity,” he said.
Later the President and First Lady were joined by Sasha Obama, Austin and Aaron Robinson serving Thanksgiving meals to residents of the Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH) in Washington.
Meanwhile, Obama asked his national security and counter terrorism officials to maintain relentless pressure on those seeking to harm Americans.
Obama said this in a meeting with his national security team which was convened to review comprehensive domestic and international efforts to protect the American people during this holiday season, the White House said.