Washington: President Barack Obama spared two turkeys named for one of the nation’s most admired presidents, continuing a White House tradition that provides a refreshing sense of amusement and bipartisan cheer no matter how troubled the times.
Obama pardoned “Abe,” the 2015 national Thanksgiving turkey, during a ceremony yesterday in the Rose Garden.
Abe gobbled right on cue as Obama finished his absolution.
Don’t fret for “Honest,” though, the second bird who was nearby if off camera. Both turkeys will spend their remaining days living it up on a Virginia farm. They were named for Abraham Lincoln, often nicknamed “Honest Abe.”
The birds hail from California, are 18 weeks old and weigh in at about 42 pounds (19 kilograms) each. The names of the turkeys were chosen from submissions entered by school children in California.
American families traditionally gather each year for turkey feasts on the last Thursday of November, a holiday commonly traced to a 1621 celebration in Plymouth, Massachusetts where the first American colonists, the Pilgrims, invited Native Americans to join them in a feast.
George HW Bush was the first president to formally pardon a Thanksgiving turkey in 1989, though stories of spared turkeys date back to Lincoln’s presidency.
Obama was accompanied at the event by his daughters, Malia and Sasha. They didn’t look thrilled at last year’s turkey pardoning, and Obama thanked them for once against standing with him.
“They do this solely because it makes me feel good, not because they actually think that this is something I should be doing,” Obama said. “As you get older, you appreciate when your kids just indulge you like this.