Earlier today, President Barack Obama participated in a presidential Thanksgiving tradition, officially pardoning two turkeys. In his speech announcing the move, Mr. Obama cracked a number of jokes and reminisced about the spirit of storm-damaged Staten Islanders, in addition to declaring the pair of turkeys free from human consumption, of course.
Courtesy of the White House, here is Mr. Obama’s transcribed speech in full, including multiple gobble-related interruptions:
THE PRESIDENT: Well, good afternoon, everybody. (Turkey gobbles.) (Laughter.)
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.)
Now, I joke, but for the first time in our history, the winners of the White House Turkey Pardon were chosen through a highly competitive online vote. And once again, Nate Silver completely nailed it. (Laughter.) The guy is amazing. He predicted these guys would win.
I want to thank everyone who participated in this election. Because of your votes, the only cobbler anyone’s eating this Thanksgiving will come with a side of ice cream. And for that, our winning turkey can thank his stellar campaign team led by Steve Willardsen, who is the Chairman of the National Turkey Foundation and raised this beautiful bird at Miller Farm in Harrisonburg, Virginia. So here’s Steve. (Applause.)
And, as always, if for some reason Cobbler cannot fulfill his duties as the Official White House Turkey, Gobbler will be waiting in the wings.
From here, these two — (laughter) — from here these two lucky birds will be swept up in a whirlwind of fame and fortune that will ultimately lead them to Mount Vernon, where they will spend their twilight years in the storied home of George Washington. And later today, Michelle, Malia, Sasha and I will be taking two turkeys who were not so lucky to a local food bank here in Washington, D.C. I want to thank Jaindl Turkey Farms in Pennsylvania for donating these birds — or those birds — and I’d like to ask every American to do what they can to help families who are in need of a real Thanksgiving this year.
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.
In the last few weeks, I had a chance to visit both New Jersey and New York. And while I’ve seen entire neighborhoods reduced to rubble and heartbreaking loss and devastation, I have yet to find a broken spirit.
Countless stories of courage, and compassion, and resilience have emerged in the aftermath of the storm. But one that comes to mind today is about a tree on Staten Island. It’s a giant blue spruce that came crashing down in the front yard of Joseph Ingenito, whose home in New Dorp Beach flooded during the hurricane. Today, if you go to Joseph’s street, you’ll see a lot of damage and debris scattered all over the block. But you’ll also see the top of that tree, standing tall in front of his house, decorated with ornaments that survived the storm, along with anything else his neighbors could find including empty cups and surgical masks and safety goggles. It’s a Christmas tree, and it’s there to remind the neighborhood that there will still be holidays to celebrate, and happy moments to share, and life will go on. And we will rebuild.
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.
So may God bless those brave men and women in uniform who are away from their families this holiday season. May God bless the American people. May you all have a very happy Thanksgiving.
And with that I think we are going to bestow the official pardon on — wait, which — is he Gobbler or Cobbler? Cobbler. Come on. All right, I’ve got to give the special dispensation. Congratulations, Cobbler. You have a great life.
Everybody give Cobbler a big round of applause.
(The turkeys are pardoned.)