Sunday, November 24, 2013

Our Feathered Friend Who Gets Away

The yearly tradition of the presidential pardoning of the turkey.

“President Ford reprieves a Thanksgiving turkey presented by the National Turkey Federation. November 20, 1975. Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library”

Every year before Thanksgiving the president of the United States of America pardons a turkey from being cooked for the festive holiday meal.

The greatest part of the whole story in my opinion is that the turkey that the presedent pardons isn’t just any old turkey. The turkey that gets to live to see another day is from a long line of special show turkeys that are ok with large crowds and flashing lights.

As the story goes the tradition started back when Abraham Lincoln was the president. A turkey had been brought the grounds of the white house to be prepaired for the Thanksgiving meal but the presidents ten year old son, Tad, befriended the bird and even tought it to follow him around the white house grounds and named him Jack.

When the time came to prepare the turkey for the holiday meal, Tad convinced the “executioner” to delay slaughtering the bird, so he could bring Jack’s case before the President. Tad ran and burst into one of his father’s Cabinet meetings. Crying loudly, Tad told his father that Jack was about to be killed. “Jack must not be killed; it is wicked,” Tad pleaded. President Lincoln replied, “Jack was sent here to be killed and eaten…I can’t help it.” Tad, sobbing, said, “He’s a good turkey, and I don’t want him killed.” Abraham Lincoln, president of the United States of America, paused in the midst of the Cabinet meeting. He took out a card, and on it he wrote an order of reprieve. Jack’s life was to be spared, and Tad raced out of the Cabinet meeting to present the presidential order to the executioner.*

*A footnote to the story: On Tuesday, November 8, 1864, Abraham Lincoln was elected to a second term as president. A special polling place had been set up on the White House grounds especially for soldiers who chose to vote. Jack, the turkey, actually strutted in front of some of the soldiers and cut in the voting line. Seeing this, the president looked at Tad and asked if Jack was going to vote. “He is under age,” Tad replied.
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