Ahead of this year’s Thanksgiving, United States President Donald Trump on Wednesday pardoned two turkeys as part of a Thanksgiving ritual, maintaining a long-standing presidential tradition.
Thanksgiving is a public holiday in the US, originating as the harvest festival. It is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, so this year it will be on November 23.
Each year, the president of the US “pardons” at least one turkey, which becomes the national Thanksgiving bird that is granted reprieve from execution. In continuation of the ritual, Trump pardoned turkeys named Drumstick and Wishbone on the White House lawns.
“It was 70 years ago that the National Turkey Federation first presented the National Thanksgiving Turkey to President Harry Truman -- who, I might add, did not grant the pardon. He refused. He was a tough cookie. Today, I’m going to be a much nicer president,” Trump said amidst laughter from the audience.
Moments later, he formally pardoned the two turkeys.
“Over the past 10 months, Melania and I have had the pleasure of welcoming many, many special visitors to the great White House. We’ve hosted dozens of incredible world leaders, members of Congress, and, along the way, a few very strange birds. But we have yet to receive any visitors quite like our magnificent guest of honour today -- Drumstick,” he said.
US First Lady Melania and their son Barron accompanied Trump on the podium, while daughter Ivanka along with her husband Jarred Kushner and two kids were seated in the front rows of the Rose Garden lawns on Wednesday morning.
“Hi, Drumstick. Oh, Drumstick, I think, is going to be very happy,” Trump said.
“I’m pleased to report that, unlike millions of other turkeys at this time of the year, Drumstick has a very, very bright future ahead of him,” he said.
Drumstick was raised on Carl and Sharlene’s turkey farm in Douglas County, Minnesota, with the help of five young women, who were present at the event.
Now that they have been pardoned, Drumstick and his friend, Wishbone, will live out their days at “Gobbler’s Rest”, a custom-built enclosure on Virginia Tech campus.
There, they’ll join Tater and Tot, the two turkeys pardoned last year by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama.
Trump joked that he is not allowed to reverse Obama’s turkey pardons, despite being so “active in overturning” many of his predecessor’s executive actions.
“As many of you know, I have been very active in overturning a number of executive actions by my predecessor. However, I have been informed by the White House Counsel’s Office that Tater and Tot’s pardons cannot, under any circumstances, be revoked. So we’re not going to revoke them. So, Tater and Tot, you can rest easy,” he said as the audience burst into laughter.
Speaking on the occasion, he also thanked the National Turkey Federation for bringing along two other turkeys from Jaindl’s Turkey Farm in Orefield, Pennsylvania. He donated the turkeys to Martha’s Table, a charity here in Washington, DC, which provides warm meals to people in need.
“They do a fantastic job,” Trump said.