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A Pictorial History of Pardoned Turkeys


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A Pictorial History of Pardoned Turkeys
President George H.W. Bush

On Nov. 17, 1989, President George H.W. Bush issued the first of what would become a White House tradition, a proclamation pardoning the Thanksgiving turkey.

George Bush Presidential Library and Museum

Pardoned turkeys have become as much an American tradition as stuffing and grandma's homemade gravy on Thanksgiving. Commanders in chief from George H.W. Bush on have spared fowl from a spot next to the green bean casserole by issuing turkey pardons and sending the birds to live out their golden years in blissful ignorance.

"Let me assure you," Bush said in Rose Garden ceremony in 1989, "and this fine tom turkey, that he will not end up on anyone's dinner table, not this guy - he's granted a Presidential pardon as of right now - and allow him to live out his days on a children's farm not far from here."

You could say our presidents have, ahem, have stuck their necks out for the Thanksgiving gobbler.

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