Remarks by President Biden at National Thanksgiving Turkey Pardon

Rose garden

3:30 p.m. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning everyone. Please take a seat. I am honored to welcome you, for the first time as President, to a Thanksgiving tradition here at the White House that reminds us to have a little fun and always be grateful.

You know, as a man from the University of Delaware, I have a soft spot for Blue Hens, but today we’re going to talk about turkey.

To the families of my staff, thank you for joining us, for being part of our team.

And thank you, rock [Phil] Seger, President of the National Turkey Federation, for carrying on the tradition of presenting turkey to the President that dates back to President Truman.

(The turkeys gobble up.)

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. (Laughs.) Yes. And forgiving the turkey goes to George HW Bush.

I just met your wonderful family: your wife, Krista, who volunteers to have the children immunized at home in Jasper – thank you so much for doing that; and your amazing kids – Addie, 12, Ellie, 10, and Jack, 9.

And Addie and Ellie, I’m telling you, if you – your parents will understand – the reason I ran for President is that my grandchildren your age could have Secret Service protection – because you are a charming young woman and young man.

Listen, and a special thank you to the students at Ellie and Jack’s school in Jasper who submitted the names of these two beautiful turkeys – two names I can only agree with. Who better to help celebrate the holiday where we break bread for two turkeys named Peanut Butter and Jelly?

I have to admit – my wife doesn’t like to admit it – this is what I love for lunch: peanut butter and jelly.

But I also want to thank the farmers who have been selected by the National Federation of Turkey to raise what is called the “presidential herd”.

It’s a group of about 20 turkeys vying to get here today. In other words, the Turkish presidential primary. (To laugh.)

And so, I just met Andrea and Brad Welp, third and fifth generation farmers from St. Anthony, Indiana. And they’re here with their 5-year-old son, Benton, and their 2-year-old daughter, Brogan, who is wondering, “Why do I have to be here, Mom? ” (To laugh.)

Since July – since July, they have been preparing the herd for this day. And I’m told that turkeys even listen to music to get used to the noise of the crowd. And they interacted with kids and visitors to get used to their visit to Washington.

And finally, the peanut butter and jelly were selected
depending on their temperament, their appearance and, I guess, their vaccination status. (To laugh.)

(The turkeys gobble up.)

THE CHAIRMAN: Oh, you see? (Laughs.) Yes, instead of being watered, these two turkeys are boosted. (To laugh.)

(The turkeys gobble up.)

THE CHAIRMAN: (Laughs.) Yes. (Laughs.) I love them talking to me like that.

This week, they were greeted on the red carpet at a posh hotel here in Washington called the Willard Hotel, next door.

Secretary Buttigieg couldn’t be here today, but I’m sorry for Pete and Chasten: Peanut Butter and Jelly are now Indiana’s powerful new couple.

And Andrea and Brad, thank you for pouring your love and pride into this work and this national tradition. And Benton and Brogan, I know you’ll miss your favorite turkeys, but the good news is, you can always visit them.

After receiving their presidential pardon, Peanut Butter and Jelly will head to Purdue University West Lafayette – in West Lafayette, Indiana, where they will be – to visit something close to my heart – a train: the Boilermaker Special. This is where they are going to be.

So, for … people, Turkey is an infrastructure. The peanut butter and jelly will help rebuild the butter ball as we go along. (To laugh.)

And so, I hereby – I will walk. I’ll forgive this year’s turkey – the national Thanksgiving turkey. And the first – the one who is going to be pardoned is Peanut Butter, who should be able to fulfill his duties. And also hereby I will – in case that changes, I will also forgive his alternative, Jelly.

People, like I said before, all Americans want the same thing: they want to be able to look the turkey in the eye and tell him that everything will be fine. (Laughs.) So, folks, it’s going to be fine.

Seriously, it’s important to carry on traditions like this to remind us how from darkness comes light, hope and progress. And that’s what, in my opinion, Thanksgiving this year.

So many of us are meeting with our loved ones for the first time in a long time, and we will reconnect with traditions, with our tables and our hearts full of grace and gratitude for all those who have made this possible:

Scientists, researchers, doctors, nurses and other frontline workers who developed and administered vaccines and kept essential services running.

Religious leaders and community leaders who counsel, comfort and heal.

Farmers, farm workers, meat packers who risked their lives during this pandemic to grow, process and pick the food that is on our tables.

And on Monday, my wife Jill and I will be heading to Fort Bragg, North Carolina for a first Thanksgiving with the troops and their military families. We will be able to show the nation’s gratitude for their service and sacrifice and welcome those who return home after 20 years in Afghanistan.

But, gentlemen, as we give thanks for what – we also keep in our hearts those we have lost – have lost so much, those who will have empty seats at their tables this year due to the virus or some other blow. of cruel fate or accident.

The sorrow that they have is – there’s a lot of sorrow that’s deep, that tears hearts again at every feast. We pray that they will find strength in sorrow and purpose in pain.

And as we claim our dear traditions, let us commit to what the psalmist wrote: “The Lord is my strength and my shield… and with my song I give thanks to him.

May our song be that of lives saved, breaches repaired, a nation healed. And this is the America I know: a great nation because we are good people.

You, the American people, I will be eternally grateful for your trust in me.

And from the Biden family to yours, we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.

And may bless – God bless you all. And may God protect our troops.

And May, let’s move on to the matter of forgiveness. Thank you. (Applause.)

It’s a big turkey. With the power bestowed upon me as President of the United States, I forgive you. I forgive you this Thanksgiving.

Go ahead, say something. (To laugh.)

(The turkeys gobble up.)

Here is. (Laughs.) “Thank you for the forgiveness. “

But I must also forgive – I must also forgive Jelly.

Jelly, you don’t have to come up here, but I forgive you, kid. Yes.

Thank you everyone. Hope you have a happy, happy, happy Thanksgiving. And it’s cold, isn’t it? (To laugh.)

OK. Thanks everyone. (Applause.)

3:38 p.m. EST


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