Thank you, kids. Thank you very much. Please be seated. And let me just say I want to welcome all of you. Certainly Mr. Cuddie, who is the president of the National Turkey Federation; Stuart Proctor, the executive vice president. I want to especially welcome all the kids: From Kent Gardens Elementary, now, where are you? Hold up your -- there they are, right over – this group, good. Amidon Elementary? Yep. Holy Cross, and maybe some strays out there from other schools. Anyway, everyone is really welcome.
And of course, the special guest of honor, the bird over here. I hope you guys have seen him. After participating in this ceremony year after year, I've come to learn a little about the turkey. For instance, it's hand fed. It gets lots of personal attention. And it's over-weight and reminds me of Ranger, who you may have seen running around here, our dog. We're trying to avoid a confrontation between the turkey and our springer.
But I want to set the guests at ease and especially tell the kids something. After all, this turkey represents America's 45 million turkeys who will begin making their irreplaceable contribution to our Thanksgiving celebration. So take it easy, turkey, we're just here to serve you.
We all know that Thanksgiving is more than just an occasion to stuff yourself. It's a uniquely American holiday, a time for remembering all the good things that we've been given or asking ourselves what good we can find to do. After all, only America would set aside a special holiday just for the purpose of giving thanks. George Washington, in the first Presidential Thanksgiving Day proclamation, spoke of, and here's the quotation, "the duty . . . to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor . . ."
Well, this turkey must have said some prayers of his own. And we're going to grant him a special Presidential pardon. He will be going into early retirement, I'm told, living out his years on a Virginia children's farm.
I want to thank all of you for being here on this special occasion, welcome all our new friends to the White House. God bless you, and may you have a happy Thanksgiving.
- Proclamation: a National Thanksgiving," George Washington, 3 October 1789