President Obama Issues the Last Turkey Pardon of His Presidency

The pardoning ceremony in the White House Rose Garden was attended by the president’s two nephews. 

President Barack Obama, here with his nephews Aaron and Austin Robinson, delivers a speech filled with puns before pardoning the National Thanksgiving Turkey during a ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 23, 2016. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

On the eve of President Barack Obama’s last Thanksgiving in the White House, he carried on the time-honored tradition of pardoning a turkey before the holiday.

Nephews Austin and Aaron Robinson were on hand to watch their Uncle President in the pardon of the National Thanksgiving Turkey ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House on Wednesday.

In a yearly tradition dating back to 1947, the chairman of the National Turkey Federation presents a turkey to the president of the United States, who then grants the turkey a pardon.

“For generations, presidents have faithfully executed two great American traditions,” President Obama said, “issuing a proclamation that sets aside a Thursday in November for us to express gratitude, and granting pardons that reflect our beliefs in second chances. And this week, we do both.”

Now that the president has granted his pardon, the turkeys, named Tater and Tot, will be sent to live at “Gobbler’s Rest” in Blacksburg, Va., where they will be cared for by veterinarians and students of Virginia Tech’s Animal and Poultry Sciences Department.

“Let me just say one last thing before I spare these turkeys’ lives. On this Thanksgiving, I want to express my sincere gratitude to the American people for the trust that you’ve placed in me over these last eight years and the incredible kindness that you’ve shown my family,” Obama said. “On behalf of Michelle and my mother-in-law and our girls, we want to thank you so very, very much.”

Read more at the White House blog.

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