Liberty, Bell pardoned: President Biden pardons national turkeys

Liberty and Bell

President Joe Biden is spending his 81st birthday upholding an annual Thanksgiving tradition.

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The president pardoned the national turkeys during a White House ceremony on the South Lawn.

This year, the turkeys are named Liberty and Bell and hail from Wilmar, Minnesota and spent their first days in the nation’s capital at the Willard Intercontinental luxury hotel, The Associated Press reported.

They received a “red carpet welcome,” NBC News reported.

Like other bigshots, Liberty and Bell got to Washington, D.C. riding in the back of a black Cadillac Escalade.

“They were raised like all of our turkeys, protected, of course, from weather extremes and predators, free to walk about with constant access to water and feed,” Steve Lykken, chairman of the National Turkey Federation and president of the Jennie-O Turkey Store told the AP.

The turkeys are both male and are about 20 weeks old, weighing about 42 pounds. Leading up to Monday’s ceremony, listened to music and other sounds to get ready for the noise of the city. Apparently like Travis Kelce, they have a fondness for Taylor Swift.

“They listened to all kinds of music to get ready for the crowds and people along the way. I can confirm they are, in fact, Swifties, and they do enjoy some Prince,” Lykken said, according to the AP.

Once they’re out of the presidential spotlight, Liberty and Bell will be returned to Minnesota where they will live out their days being cared for by the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Sciences

The tradition of when the pardoning of the national turkey started has been debated over the years as presidents and their families frequently were gifted turkeys in advance of Thanksgiving.

Some claim that President Abraham Lincoln granted clemency to a turkey in 1863, while others said that President Harry Truman did it in 1947, according to The White House Historical Association. President John F. Kennedy was said to have pardoned the turkeys in 1963 when The Washington Post used “pardon” and “reprieve in an article. It wasn’t President Richard Nixon who received turkeys, but instead, his wife Patricia accepted the fowl in 1973, sending it to the Oxen Hill Children’s farm. First lady Rosalynn Carter sent the 1978 turkey to Evans Farm Inn to live.

It wasn’t until 1989 that President George H. W. Bush officially granted a full presidential pardon to the turkey given to the White House that year.

Animal rights activists picketed during the appearance with Bush saying, “But let me assure you, and this fine tom turkey, that he will not end up on anyone’s dinner table, not this guy -- he’s granted a Presidential pardon as of right now -- and allow him to live out his days on a children’s farm not far from here,” the White House said.

In addition to the turkey pardon, it’s a busy day at the White House to launch the holiday season.

Later in the afternoon, first lady Dr. Jill Biden will accept the Whtie House Christmas Tree — an 18.5-foot Fraser Fir from Fleetwood, North Carolina, the AP reported.

Later this week, the first family will travel to Nantucket to celebrate Thanksgiving, arriving Tuesday evening, the Nantucket Current reported.

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