As a longtime vegetarian, I'm a big fan of the annual presidential turkey pardon.
They say that life is all about second chances. And this November, I could not agree more. (Laughter.) So in the spirit of the season, I have one more gift to give, and it goes to a pair of turkeys named Cobbler and Gobbler. The American people have spoken, and these birds are moving forward. (Turkey gobbles.) (Laughter.) I love this bird. (Laughter.)
Tomorrow, in the company of friends and loved ones, we will celebrate a uniquely American holiday. And it’s a chance for us to spend time with the people we care about and to give thanks for the blessings that we enjoy; and to think about just how lucky we are to live in the greatest nation on Earth.
But it’s also a time to remember those who are less fortunate -– and this year, that’s particularly true for our neighbors in the Northeast who have lost their homes and their possessions, and even their loved ones to Hurricane Sandy.
And so tomorrow, we give thanks -– not only for the things that we have, or the people we love, but for the spirit that sees us through the toughest times, and holds us together as one American family, guided along our journey by the hope of a better day.
And I hope that over this holiday weekend, we’re also thinking about our extraordinary men and women overseas who are serving far away from home in harm’s way. But the reason they're there is because they give thanks too for the extraordinary life that have here in the United States of America.
The tradition of presidential clemency for turkeys goes back to President John F. Kennedy who spontaneously sparing the first White House bird on November 18, 1963, only four days before his assassination. The unnamed Thanksgiving bird was presented to Kennedy wearing a “Good Eatin' Mr. President” sign but JFK declared “Let's just keep him” instead.
There's so much to be thankful for this year … family, friends, the health we have, MATH, and being lucky enough to live in a country where the People still have a voice and a vote and where even those of us who don't have turkeys will (mostly) have enough to eat today.
What are you thankful for?
Postscript: While we're talking about presidential pardons, Dana Siegelman's petition asking President Obama to pardon her dad, former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman is still collecting signatures. Almost 40,000 now.