Earlier today President Obama, with the help of daughters Sasha and Malia, carried out “one of the most important duties” he has as President of the United States – the pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkey.
This year, the National Thanksgiving Turkey Apple, and his understudy Cider, came to the White House from Foster Farms Wellsford Ranch near Modesto, California. Both turkeys participated in a rigorous competition back home at the farm in order to win the ultimate prize of a Presidential pardon and an all-expenses-paid trip to the White House. Apple and Cider will live out their days at Mount Vernon, home of our nation’s first President George Washington.
During his remarks at the pardoning ceremony, President Obama reflected on the meaning of Thanksgiving and the importance of taking time during the holiday season to give back to our communities:
This, of course, is what’s truly meant by Thanksgiving -– a holiday that asks us to be thankful for what we have, and generous to those who have less. It’s a time to spend with the ones we love, and a chance to show compassion and concern to people we’ve never met. It’s a tradition that’s brought us together as a community since before we were a nation, when the ground we’re standing on was nothing but wilderness.
Back then, the simple act of survival was often the greatest blessing of all. And later, President Lincoln declared the first national day of Thanksgiving in the midst of the Civil War. During the depths of the Great Depression, local businesses gave donations and charities opened their doors to families who didn’t have a place to celebrate Thanksgiving. In times of war, our military has gone through great lengths to give our men and women on the front lines a turkey dinner and a taste of home.
So in America, we come together when times are hard. We don’t give up. We don’t complain. And we don’t turn our backs on one another. Instead, we look out for another and we pitch in and we give what we can. And in the process, we reveal to the world what we love so much about this country.
That’s who we are. And that’s who Thanksgiving reminds us to be. So I hope everyone takes some time during this holiday season to give back and serve their community in some way. And I also want to take a moment to say how grateful I am to the men and women who are serving this country bravely and selflessly in places far away from home right now. You and your families are in our thoughts and in our prayers, and you make me so very proud to be your Commander-in-Chief.