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Free bird: Thanksgiving turkey pardons

By: Catie Leary on Nov. 16, 2009, 5:46 a.m.
President George H.W. Bush, 1991

Photo: Courtesy George H.W. Bush Presidential Library

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A bird in hand

Seen here granting one of his trademark turkey pardons in 1991, President George H.W. Bush began the annual tradition two years earlier with this announcement: "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 been granted a presidential pardon as of right now, allowing him to live out his days on a farm not far from here." By repeating the act every year of his presidency, Bush secured it as a seasonal U.S. ritual.