President Barack Obama symbolically pardoned a turkey on Wednesday, a White House tradition on the eve of the US Thanksgiving holiday when Americans will feast on the poultry.
“America is, after all, a country of second chances, and this turkey has earned a second chance to live out the rest his life comfortably,” said a beaming Obama in the gardens of the presidential mansion, flanked by his daughters Malia and Sasha.
“It is hard to believe this is my seventh year of pardoning a turkey. Time flies — even if turkeys don’t,” added a jovial Obama, pardoning the turkey named “Abe” for president Abraham Lincoln.
Obama thanked his daughters for taking part — and being good sports.
“I am going to publicly thank Malia and Sasha for once again standing here with me during the turkey pardon,” said the president, getting into the holiday spirit as his daughters looked on sheepishly.
“They do this solely because it makes me feel good. Not because they actually think that this is something I should be doing. And, you know, as you get older, you appreciate when your kids just indulge you like this.”
The origin of the pardoning tradition is unclear — some say it was John F. Kennedy who was the first to spare a turkey in November 1963.
However, it wasn’t until the days of George H.W. Bush in 1989, that pardoning became an annual part of White House turkey presentations.
Thanksgiving is celebrated each year on the last Thursday of November.