Good morning, ladies and gentlemen and boys and girls. It's good to see you here.
I want to especially thank Congresswoman Leslie Byrne for joining us, along with Stuart Proctor, the National Turkey Federation president, and the turkey, clapping for the president – Thomas Bross, the chairman of the federation and a turkey farmer from Pennsylvania who raised this year's Thanksgiving turkey, and the National Turkey Federation staff. Finally, I want to welcome the fourth grade students who are here from Springfield Estates Elementary School in Springfield, Virginia. Welcome to all of you. I'm glad you're here for Thanksgiving.
As President, this is my first year to have the honor of accepting the annual Thanksgiving turkey and granting the turkey the annual Presidential pardon. After this ceremony, this turkey will retire to a 1930s working farm replica in Northern Virginia.
We've come together today to have a little the but also to express our gratitude in this Thanksgiving season for God's many blessings, a time to impress upon younger people the heritage of our Nation and the commitment we all have to justice and freedom and peace.
It's also a time to reach out in service to others not as fortunate as we are. In a few hours, Hillary and I will visit the new Covenant Baptist Church here in Washington where church members and homeless families are coming together to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving, when we all bask in the generosity and hospitality of our own family and friends, reminds us that we also belong to a larger community full of people who often are not as fortunate as we are.
It's a time to value those things and to remember how strong we are when we come together to overcome adversity. In the last few months I've had a chance to spend a lot of time in the Middle West, dealing with the floods and their aftermath, and then last Sunday I went to church in California with two dozen people who went through the horrible trauma of the wildfires in the West. And I saw again what people can do when they pull together and remember that we are all in this together.
Tomorrow, I'll have the great good fortune of celebrating Thanksgiving with my family, reflecting on the past year and looking to the future. I'll have the chance to say a prayer of thanks for the many blessings that I have enjoyed. I ask all of you to do that. I wish you well on this Thanksgiving and to remember also our continuing obligations for our fellow Americans who don't have many of the things we take for granted. Together we can make this country stronger and have even more to be thankful for next Thanksgiving.
Thank you very much. And thank you for the applause. Somebody pointed out this morning that this may not he the only turkey I've had in administration, but this is one I will certainly set free.