59th Annual National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation

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59th Annual National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation
The pardon of Flyer and Fryer
 (2006) 
by George W. Bush
22 November 2006

Good morning. Thanks for coming. Welcome to the Rose Garden. I appreciate being up here with Mike Briggs and Alice Johnson of the National Turkey Federation, and I thank you for bringing along our feathery guest. We're glad you're here. Mike, thanks for bringing your family as well.

The name of the national Thanksgiving turkey has been chosen by online voting at the White House website. By the decision of the voters, this turkey is going to be called Flyer. And there's always a backup bird, just in case the guest of honor can't perform his duties, and the backup bird's name is Fryer. Probably better to be called Flyer than Fryer.

These birds were hatched on a farm in Missouri and raised there by Matthew Nutt and his mom and dad, Lynn and Donna, and we're glad you all are here. Thanks for coming. They did a fine job of raising these birds.

I also welcome the Girl Scouts who've joined us. Thanks for coming – yes, I'm glad you're here. These are troops from Virginia, and Maryland and Washington, D.C. And we thank you for being in scouting, and we thank your scout masters and your parents for setting such a good example for you.

We're here in the Rose Garden. This is a place where Barney likes to hang out. Barney is my dog. And he likes to chase a soccer ball here. He came out a little early, as did Flyer, and instead of chasing the soccer ball, he chased the bird. And it kind of made the turkey nervous. See, the turkey was already nervous to begin with. Nobody has told him yet about the pardon I'm about to give him.

Tomorrow is our day of Thanksgiving. It's a national observance first proclaimed by George Washington. In our journey across the centuries from a few tiny settlements to a prosperous and powerful nation, Americans have always been a grateful people, and we are this year as well. We're grateful for our beautiful land. We're grateful for a harvest big enough to feed us all, plus much of the world. We're grateful for our freedom. We're grateful for our families. And we're grateful for life itself.

So on Thanksgiving Day, we gather with loved ones and we lift our hearts toward heaven in humility and gratitude. As we count our blessings, Americans also share our blessings. We're a generous country. We're filled with caring citizens who reach out to others, people who've heard the universal call to love a neighbor as we want to be loved ourselves. On Thanksgiving and every day of the year, Americans live out of a spirit of compassion and care, and I thank you for that. It's the spirit that moves men and women to be mentors to the young, to be scout leaders, to be helpers of the elderly, to be comforters of the lonely and those who are left out.

We love our country, and the greatest example of that devotion is the citizen who steps forward to defend our nation from harm. Members of our military have set aside their own comfort and convenience and safety to protect the rest of us. Their courage keeps us free. Their sacrifice makes us grateful, and their character makes us proud. Especially during the holidays our whole nation keeps them and their families in our thoughts and prayers.

And now to the ceremonial task of the day. Why don't we have a look at Flyer? There you go. I think Flyer heard Barney barking over there. It's a fine looking bird, isn't it? Flyer is probably wondering where he's going to wind up tomorrow. He's probably thinking he's going to end up on somebody's table. Well, I'm happy to report that he and Fryer both have many tomorrows ahead of them. This morning I am grateful – I am granting a full presidential pardon so they can live out their lives as safe as can be.

In fact, it gets even better. Later today, Flyer and Fryer will be on a plane to Disneyland where they're going to achieve further celebrity as the honorary grand marshal of the Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Thank you all for coming. God bless, and happy Thanksgiving.