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The official pardoning of the turkeys

GWB:  Pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkey.  Rose Garden

White House Photo Office

GWB: Pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkey. Rose Garden

Nic Sloan, Co-Editor

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Politics doesn’t always have to be doom, gloom, and serious issues. Every year the White House pardons either a single or several turkeys from ending up on some family’s dinner plate. This tradition, albeit a very awkward ceremony, has ran in the White House since John F. Kennedy officially pardoned the first turkey in 1963. It has been rumored to stretch all the way back to Lincoln’s presidency, however.

  JFK’s successors each decided to put their own twist on the ceremony. For example, Richard Nixon’s turkey was so wild and out of hand it’s feet had to be nailed to the table. President Gerald Ford decided to place a pre-processed and packaged turkey next to the live one he pardoned. George Bush officially made the tradition formal in 1989, for it to be carried out for years to come.

  This year’s turkey pardon has not yet been announced, but President Trump will be pardoning one to two turkeys on Thanksgiving Day. The turkeys will be provided by the non-profit organization, the National Turkey Federation.

  However, while this tradition doesn’t keep the “lucky” turkeys from their inevitable death, the turkeys that are pardoned are still a part of the turkeys bred to be eaten. They are made to be large and plump to get the most out of them on the dinner table. On top of that, they generally don’t live long lives anyways, since they are slaughtered for their meat every Thanksgiving. So unlike their wild relatives, they can’t really survive on their own. Every turkey pardoned at the White House generally ends up dead within a year of their pardon.

  So where do these pardoned turkeys go to live out their last days? Typically, they live on farms, usually somewhere in Virginia. Both the pairs of turkeys Obama and Trump have pardoned in the last couple years, Tater, Tot, Drumstick, and Wishbone, have ended up in a place called Gobbler’s Rest located in Virginia. They live their lives in quite fair conditions, protected from outside threats such as foxes and weather conditions.

  Tourists are generally welcome to visit the turkey’s each year, but the window of time is small, as they typically pass away within a few months.

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The official pardoning of the turkeys