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November 21, 2023

Biden Pardons 'Liberty' and 'Bell' in 2023 Thanksgiving Tradition

Two turkeys from a Minnesota farm received presidential pardons at the White House on Monday, part of a cherished Thanksgiving tradition.

President Joe Biden kicked off the ceremony by playfully asking the crowd whether he should spare the birds, named Liberty and Bell in honor of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, quipping, "These birds have a new appreciation of the word 'Let freedom ring.'"

Commenting on their size, Biden declared, "I hereby pardon Liberty and Bell!" ensuring they wouldn't end up as this year's feast.

Reflecting on the Thanksgiving holiday, Biden reminded everyone of the nation's abundance, emphasizing, "Let's remind ourselves that we are blessed to live in the greatest nation on this face of the Earth."

He paid tribute to former first lady Rosalynn Carter, who recently passed away, acknowledging her inspirational legacy.

The turkeys were revealed on Sunday at a Washington event sponsored by the National Turkey Federation. Hatched in Willmar, Minn., more than four months ago as part of the "Presidential Flock," they underwent training to prepare for crowds and cameras.

After their public appearance, the turkeys retired to a comfortable suite for the evening before their move to the University of Minnesota.

Steve Lykken, NTF chairman and president of Jennie-O Turkey Store, highlighted the event's significance in spotlighting the efforts of the turkey farming industry and agriculture workers.

The pardoned turkeys are destined for housing at the University of Minnesota post-Washington, Lykken added.

Last year, Biden's pardoning of two turkeys named Chocolate and Chip included some light-hearted jabs at Republicans.

The history of the Thanksgiving turkey pardon is debated. While some attribute it to President Harry S. Truman in 1947, others suggest President Abraham Lincoln or even President John F. Kennedy in 1963, though the tradition gained traction after President George H.W. Bush's turkey pardon in 1989.

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