Remarks By The President At The 51st National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation Ceremony


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release November 24, 1998


The Rose Garden

12:47 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Chairman Gessell, President Proctor,

Walter Gialason and all the children from the Greater Washington Boys andGirlsClubs, welcome to all of you. I want to thank you for joining us in theRoseGarden for our annual Thanksgiving Day celebration. I'd also like to thank theNational Turkey Federation again for donating this year's Tom turkey to theWhite House.

And of course, I want to acknowledge our special guest of honor,thisgood-looking turkey from the land of 10,000 lakes, Minnesota. Minnesota is thesecond largest turkey producing state in our nation. They have even moreturkeys there than lakes. And I must say, of all the years I've been here, thisis the most adventurous turkey we've ever had. (Laughter.) Just ask himyourquestions. (Laughter.) While the average turkey weighs about 15 pounds,theytell me our friend here weighs over 45 pounds.

As all of you know, Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday,datingback to the Pilgrims and Plymouth, Massachusetts. When the Pilgrims satdownfor Thanksgiving dinner in 1621, of course, they didn't have the usualtrimmings-- no potatoes, not stuffing, no pumpkin pie. In fact, they didn't evenhave aturkey. They feasted on maize, squash, and venison.

A lot has changed in the last three and a half centuries in ourcountry,and not just the Thanksgiving dinner menu. But every year that I come here todo this ceremony, it seems we have more to be thankful for as Americans.Notonly do we have turkey, mashed potatoes and pie, but for this turkey anditsowners, we have the Minnesota Vikings and their great season this year.

We're also fortunate this Thanksgiving to live in one of the mostprosperous times in our history, with unemployment at its lowest level inyears, home ownership at its highest level ever. More Americans thisThanksgiving will spend this holiday in their own homes than ever before.

But we should never forget that there are still people in ournation whoneed our concern and caring. The young people here today are interested inmaking the most of their own lives and in serving their own communities.Theyremind us that Thanksgiving is not simply a time for parades and ahome-cookedmeal, but a time together with our friends, our families, our neighbors.

President Lincoln understood that when he issued the first officialproclamation of Thanksgiving during the Civil War.

Although the American people then were engaged in a profound nationalstruggleand, indeed, engaged with the very survival of our nation, Mr. Lincolnremindedus that even in the darkest times, we all have something to be thankfulfor.

Therefore, I am honored to follow in the footsteps of PresidentLincoln,and President Truman who began this tradition 51 years ago of keeping atleastone turkey off the Thanksgiving table. With this presidential pardon, ourfriend here will retire to the Petting Zoo in Fairfax County, Virginia, toliveout the remainder of his years surrounded by friends, not peas and sweetpotatoes. (Laughter.)

So let's bring the turkey up here, and I hope you all have awonderfulThanksgiving. (Applause.)

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