President Joe Biden marked his 81st birthday by partaking in a cherished Thanksgiving tradition on November 20, 2023. The US leader used his executive powers to spare two lucky turkeys named "Liberty" and "Bell" from the Thanksgiving table. The gorgeous toms were named after the famous Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. They will spend the rest of their lives under the watchful eyes of students studying animal science at the University of Minnesota.
"These birds have a new appreciation of the words "let freedom ring," Mr. Biden said. "I hereby pardon Liberty and Bell."
The 20-week-old birds both weigh about 42 pounds (19 kg). They were hatched in July on a family farm in Wilmar, Minnesota, as part of the "presidential flock." Their training included listening to music to get more comfortable with the noise at the pardoning ceremony. Not surprisingly, they seemed to enjoy Taylor Swift's songs the most!
"They listened to all kinds of music to prepare for the crowds and people along the way. I can confirm they are, in fact, Swifties, and they do enjoy some Prince," Steve Lykken, chairman of the National Turkey Federation, told The Associated Press.
Liberty and Bell came to Washington, DC, on November 19, 2023. They were transported to the Willard InterContinental Hotel in a chauffeured car. The gorgeous toms posed for reporters and fans on the red carpet laid out at the entrance in their honor. They were then taken to a luxurious suite for a good night's rest before the important ceremony the following day.
The turkey pardoning tradition can be traced back to the early 20th century, with informal tales of presidents sparing turkeys from their Thanksgiving fate. However, it was George H.W. Bush, who finally formalized the ritual in 1989. Since then, each president has continued the tradition, turning it into a festive and anticipated event for both the public and the media.
We wish Liberty and Bell a long and happy retirement. As for the rest of the turkeys? All we can say is, "Gobble, Gobble!"
Resources: USAtoday.com, VOAnews.com, CBSnews.com, History.com