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(Presidential Hall) November 22, 2005 - The following is a transcript of remarks by President Bush at the pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkey.
1:11 p.m. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Welcome to the White House. Thank you for coming this afternoon. It's a pleasure to be able to introduce you, soon, to the National Thanksgiving Turkey. His name is Marshmallow. (Laughter.) The alternative turkey's name is Yam. (Laughter.) He's around here somewhere. He's not going to be in this room. He's in a pickup truck hanging out by the South Lawn. (Laughter.)
This is what we call -- the White House is called the people's house, and we're going to call Marshmallow and Yam the people's turkeys. They made it here through a democratic process. There was a nationwide election on the White House website. In the end, the voters made the choice, and it was a close election. You might say it was neck and neck. (Laughter.)
I'm going to grant a pardon this afternoon, and the pardon I grant comes with a new measure of responsibility and fame for Marshmallow and Yam. In the past years, the turkeys I spared went on to lead lives of leisure at Frying Pan Park in the state of Virginia. This year is going to be a little different. Marshmallow and Yam were a little skeptical about going to a place called "Frying Pan Park." I don't blame them. So I'm proud to announce that Marshmallow and Yam will serve as honorary grand marshals at Disneyland's Thanksgiving Day Parade. And they'll go on to spend the rest of their natural lives at Disneyland.
The granting of the turkey pardon is not a responsibility that I take lightly, and I want to thank all of those who helped plan today's event. I appreciate the efforts of those of you from the National Turkey Federation, especially Chairman Pete Rothfork and President Alice Johnson. Welcome. Glad you all are here. I want to thank James and Vicki Trites from Trites Farm in Henning, Minnesota. Where are they, the Trites? There they are, right there. Welcome. Thanks for coming. I know that Marshmallow and Yam are going to feel pretty good strutting around sunny California, remembering the cold days of Minnesota. (Laughter.) Glad you all are here.
We've also got some other special guests in the audience who exemplify the spirit of Thanksgiving. And those are the students from Clarksville Elementary School, from Clarksville, Maryland. Anybody here from Clarksville Elementary? Welcome. We're glad you're here. Thanks for coming. These students raised more than $17,000 for the Red Cross fund to benefit Hurricane Katrina victims. Thanks a lot for your hard work in helping somebody else.
They're here with the assistant principal, Amy Green. I suspect some teachers and parents are here with them. Thank you all for teaching. Thanks for being good parents. Their compassion and dedication show the good heart of our country. And I'm proud you all are here at the White House.
Thanksgiving is a holiday rooted in the American spirit of gratitude and sharing. We see this spirit in America today. When the communities along the Gulf Coast were devastated by Hurricane Katrina, Americans came together to provide help for their neighbors in need. It was a remarkable outpouring of compassion and generosity. That outpouring of compassion demonstrated once again that the great strength of our country lies in the hearts and souls of our citizens.
We also give thanks on Thanksgiving for our many blessings, and we thank those who are far away from home who protect our freedoms. It's through the courage and skill of our Armed Forces that we're safe as a nation, and we're very proud of their service.
We think of our military families who will have an empty seat at the table this Thanksgiving. The American people are thankful for the sacrifice of the American military families, as well. America's men and women in uniform and their families have our gratitude -- not only on Thanksgiving, but on every day.
Our guest of honor seems about ready to come on in and say hello. So without further ado, I grant Marshmallow and Yam a presidential pardon. In the meantime, may God bless you all and your families during this Thanksgiving season.