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How to pardon a Turkey fit for the President

A PRIME Insurance Thanksgiving Special

It’s become a tradition in Washington, DC – pardoning a turkey just prior to Thanksgiving.

Though historians give credit to Abraham Lincoln’s compassion directed towards the bird destined for his holiday dinner table (at the behest of his young son, Tad) - as well as to others like Kennedy and Nixon - it wasn’t until November 14, 1989 when President George H. W. Bush actually verbalized a pardon for the White House turkey that the tradition has devotedly been passed on. 

“Reprieve him going, or pardon; it’s all the same for the turkey as long as he doesn’t end up on the president’s holiday table.”

Since then and onwards, US presidents have pardoned the turkey and accompanying bird sent by the National Turkey Federation, rendering them free from the slaughter house’s preparation of holiday dinners across the land.

A Yearly November Presidential Ceremony


After the Federation selects two turkeys fit for a president’s table, the pair is sent to The Rose Garden where the official pardoning takes place amid pomp, fanfare and plenty of media exposure. After this, the turkeys are escorted to their customized pen at the famed Mt. Vermont Livestock facility where they live the rest of their lives in peace and tranquility.

Elsewhere, of course, goodwill and thanksgiving reign among family and friends as the savory roasted carved turkey and cranberry sauce is passed around.


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Summary: What did the White House turkey ever do to deserve a presidential pardon before the Thanksgiving holiday? PRIME Insurance spotlights the rhetorical question.


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