Jewish World Review
http://www.jewishworldreview.com | (UPI) -- A magnificent white-feathered gobbler made history of sorts at the White House Tuesday, becoming the first female turkey ever to receive a presidential Thanksgiving pardon.
Katie, raised on a farm in Clinton, N.C., received the gesture of mercy from President George W. Bush during a brief ceremony in the White House Rose Garden.
"I see the turkey standing there. He looks a little nervous, doesn't he?" Bush said, mistakenly mixing up the gender pronoun. "He probably thinks he's going to have a press conference.
"I wish my dog, Barney, was here. But I'm afraid Barney would have met his match with that turkey, so we kept him inside."
The tradition of granting a presidential pardon to a Thanksgiving bird dates back to President Abraham Lincoln. Following the Civil War, the practice faded away, but was resurrected by President Harry Truman.
Katie, weighing in at 30 lbs, was hatched on April 3, 2002, the White House said, and was presented to the White House by the National Turkey Federation.
To make sure the bird didn't panic at human proximity and attention, it was especially raised around people, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.
The president, turning serious for a moment during an otherwise jovial event, noted the American tradition of Thanksgiving, and Americans being grateful people.
"Each year at Thanksgiving we gather in that spirit to count our blessings and to share those blessings with our families and with others," Bush said.
"On this holiday, American families will be thinking of loved ones far from home -- especially members of our military, who defend our country."
"We remember those in other lands who suffer under oppression, who long for freedom and we pray that they might one day live in a world at peace and in a free society. And in this nation of many faiths, we ask that the Almighty G-d continue to bless us and to watch over us."
Attending the ceremony were members of the Turkey Federation and a group of Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and children from Washington schools, dressed in colonial-style attire.
Bush invited them to join him for group photos and to pet Katie before she was to be whisked away.
"And now, as we look to our national Day of Thanksgiving, I have the honor of carrying out an important Presidential tradition," Bush said.
"By virtue of this pardon, Katie is on her way not to the dinner table, but to Kidwell Farm in Herndon, Virginia. There she'll live out her days as safe and comfortable as she can be."
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