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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Presidential Pass for ‘Flower’ the Turkey

U.S. President George Bush spared the lives of two turkeys, May and Flower, in a Rose Garden ceremony of uncertain origin.


Pres. George Bush and “May” in the White House Rose Garden

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais, for AP

“Flower” was spared the petting hands and clattering cameras today. She (he?) was off-stage as President George Bush bestowed a formal “pardon” on fellow turkey “May” in the White House Rose Garden.

The two birds were presented to the president by members of the National Turkey Federation, a Thanksgiving custom in the nation’s capitol since the Truman administration. “I thank everybody who voted online to choose the names for our guests of honor,” said the president. “And I’m pleased to announce the winning names. They are ‘May’ and ‘Flower.’ They’re certainly better than the names the Vice President suggested, which was ‘Lunch’ and ‘Dinner.’”

“May” and “Flower,” named for the Pilgrims’ ship, will be flown to Disney World to be Grand Marshals in the Thanksgiving Day parade. (Preferable to being in Dick Cheney’s mouth? You be the judge.)

Bush and others have attributed the first pardoning of the turkeys tradition to Harry Truman, 60 Novembers ago. But according to the Truman Presidential Library, that’s not so its “staff has found no documents, speeches, newspaper clippings, photographs, or other contemporary records in our holdings which refer to Truman pardoning a turkey that he received as a gift in 1947, or at any other time during his Presidency,” says the library’s website. “Truman sometimes indicated to reporters that the turkeys he received were destined for the family dinner table. In any event, the Library has been unable to determine when the tradition of pardoning the turkey actually began.”

In his 2001 Pardoning of the Turkeys speech, Bush traced the custom back to Abraham Lincoln. Yes, this is President Bush, Mr. Nice Guy, who lets his VP wear the black hat and gets his facts a little messed up.


President Harry Truman receives a Thanksgiving turkey, 1947

Photo: The White House

For a portfolio of some past presidents pardoning turkeys (rather heavy on Republican office holders) check out this White House photo essay.  And here’s the picture of President Truman with this first turkey presentation, 1947. From what we can tell, that turkey had no name, and Truman looks to be working up an admiring appetite.

Happy Thanksgiving to Flower, May, and all!

Posted by Julie on 11/20 at 10:52 PM
PoliticsSecular CustomsPermalink