Liberty and Peace have gotten a reprieve this year. Both are 19-week-old, 45-pound turkeys, their names were selected from more than 100 submissions.
Liberty, the official national Thanksgiving turkey, and Peace, its alternate, were selected from among 30 turkeys raised and groomed in Willmar, Minn., just for a potential presidential amnesty.
This is the 64th anniversary of the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation.
The White House says many of the ideas for names came from Minneapolis and St. Paul schoolchildren who studied the importance of agriculture to the world food supply and to local economies.
Have you ever wondered where these turkeys go after they are pardoned?
Liberty and Peace will retire to the historic home of George Washington in nearby Mount Vernon, Va. Liberty will have to endure fame and celebrity during "Christmas at Mount Vernon," a special program that runs through Jan. 6. Following the holidays, the two birds will live in a custom-made enclosure at Mount Vernon's livestock facility.
The birds are larger than the average U.S.-bred turkey. According to the Agriculture Department, the U.S. turkey industry produces more than 250 million birds a year, with each live bird averaging about 25 pounds.
So When Did this Tradition Begin?
Americans have been sending the President turkeys for the holidays since at least the 19th century. Beginning in 1873 during Grant's presidency, a Rhode Island man named Horace Vose was responsible for "selecting with the utmost care" the "noblest gobbler in all that little state" for the President's Thanksgiving dinner, a tradition he carried out for more than 25 years according to The New York Times. In 1947, the National Turkey Federation took on the role of official turkey supplier to the President, delivering a 47-pound bird in time for the Christmas holiday.
Each Thanksgiving, the President "pardons" a hand-selected turkey, sparing the bird from someone's dinner table and ensuring the rest of its days are spent roaming on a farm, doing whatever it is turkeys love to do. Twenty-two turkeys have been pardoned, and today, President Obama will pardon one more.
So then when did the pardoning start? Here's where it gets tricky. Tales of spared turkeys date back to the Lincoln days. According to one story, Lincoln's son Tad begged his father to write out a presidential pardon for the bird meant for the family's Christmas table, arguing it had as much a right to live as anyone. Lincoln acquiesced and the turkey lived.
In 1963, President Kennedy decided to send that year's gift from the National Turkey Federation back to the farm where it came from. "We'll just let this one grow," he said. Sometime around the Nixon administration, the President began sending the turkey to a petting farm near Washington after holding the traditional receiving ceremony and photo op, although no formal pardon was given.
President George H.W. Bush was the first to actually offer a turkey pardon. On November 14, 1989, he announced that year's bird had "been granted a presidential pardon as of right now." He sent the turkey on his way to the perhaps unfortunately named Frying Pan Park in Herndon, Virginia, and with that, a tradition was born.
Since taking office, President Obama has pardoned two turkeys, although in 2009, he admitted Courage, that year's top turkey, came dangerously close to gracing the White House table. "Thanks to the intervention of Malia and Sasha, because I was ready to eat this sucker. Courage will also be spared this terrible and delicious fate."
"I'm told Presidents Eisenhower and Johnson actually ate their turkeys," Obama said. "You can't fault them for that; that's a good-looking bird."
Video of Apple and Cider who were pardoned last year.
Happy Thanksgiving from The Pet Tree House!