WASHINGTON – November 25, 2009 – President Barack Obama today “pardoned” the National Thanksgiving Turkey in a White House Ceremony, as he and National Turkey Federation (NTF) Chairman Walter Pelletier celebrated the 62nd anniversary of the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation.
Pelletier presented President Obama with “Courage,” a 20-week old, 45-pound tom. The turkey’s name was chosen in honor of the men and women who sign up for military service with full knowledge of the dangers that may come. “Courage” is a symbol of thanks for the troops’ commitment to protect our security and freedom.
Pelletier’s wife, Elizabeth Pelletier, his daughters, Mildred, Charlotte and Ann Gordon and son-in-law William Warren also joined Obama on the White House north portico for the annual Thanksgiving presentation.
“There are certain days that remind me why I ran for this office. There are also moments like this, when I pardon a turkey and send it to Disneyland,” said President Obama. “But every single day, I am thankful for the extraordinary responsibility the American people have placed in me, the humble privilege it is to serve them, and the tremendous honor it is to serve as Commander-in-Chief of the finest military in the world – and I want to wish a Happy Thanksgiving to every service member at home or in harm’s way. We are proud of you, and we’re thinking of you.”
President Obama then “pardoned” the National Thanksgiving Turkey and its alternate, “Carolina.” Both birds were raised in Goldsboro, N.C., under the supervision of Pelletier. Wes Pike, Goldsboro Milling Company, handled the turkey during the ceremony.
“It is a tremendous honor to represent the turkey industry at the White House and to continue this 62-year-old tradition,” said Pelletier. “Like all Americans, the men and women of our industry faced a very challenging year economically, so it was gratifying to be at the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation and to join President Obama in reflecting on the true meaning of Thanksgiving and the holiday season.”
Pelletier is secretary-treasurer of Butterball, LLC the largest producer of turkey products in the United States, headquartered in Garner, N.C. For more than 50 years, the Butterball brand has been providing whole bird products. Today, the company also offers a variety of turkey products for retail, deli and foodservice that consumers domestically and internationally can enjoy.
The night before the presentation, “Courage” and “Carolina” stayed in a suite at the Willard Hotel. After the pardoning, “Courage” and “Carolina” were flown on United Airlines “Turkey One” to Disneyland in California, where the National Thanksgiving Turkey will be the grand marshal of the “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” Thanksgiving parade. After the parade, guests will be able to visit the turkeys at Big Thunder Ranch in Frontierland at Disneyland.
Jaindl’s Turkey Farm in Orefield, Pa., gave President Obama’s family two dressed turkeys that will be donated to a local organization that helps feed and clothe those in need.