Thank you all. Please be seated. Welcome. Welcome to a beautiful day here in the Rose Garden. I'm pleased to welcome Biscuits, the National Thanksgiving Turkey. Biscuits, welcome.
This is an election year, and Biscuits had to earn his spot at the White House. Over the past week, thousands of voters cast ballots on the White House website. It was a close race. You might say it was neck-and-neck. When all the voters were in – all the votes were in, Biscuits and his running mate, Gravy, prevailed over the ticket of Patience and Fortitude. The Vice President and I are here to congratulate Biscuits for a race well run.
It came down to a few battleground states. It was a tough contest, and it turned out some 527 organizations got involved, including Barnyard Animals for Truth. There was a scurrilous film that came out: Fahrenheit 375 Degrees at 10 Minutes Per Pound. Now, it's a time for healing.
This day took a lot of planning. I want to thank all those who helped. I appreciate Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman. She has served our nation with class and distinction. I'm going to miss having her in my Cabinet and I wish her all the best. Congressman, I'm honored you are here. Thanks for coming. I know that you're deeply concerned about the fate of this year's Thanksgiving turkey. You're a man of deep compassion.
I want to thank everyone here with the National Turkey Federation, especially John O'Carroll and Alice Johnson. Welcome. I want to thank Kevin Foltz and his family for the fine job they did in raising Biscuits and Gravy on their farm in Mathias, West Virginia. They fed the turkeys American corn and American soybeans. And from the looks of it, he had a pretty healthy appetite. I'm also grateful to Kevin's children, Kolby, Kollin and Korey, who helped to coach the turkeys to face the cameras on their big day here.
We've also got some special guests from the Immaculate Conception School. I'm glad you took this field trip to the White House. I'm grateful to your school and the parish for sharing some of your blessings during the holidays. This is the 40th year Immaculate Conception has provided food baskets to families in the Shaw neighborhood, to make sure they have plenty to eat for their Thanksgiving dinner. For the sake of our feathered guests, I'm not going to elaborate on the contents of those baskets.
The Thanksgiving tradition dates back to our nation's earlier days. We are a nation founded by men and women who deeply felt their dependence on God and always gave Him thanks and praise. As we prepare for Thanksgiving in 2004, we have much to be thankful for: our families, our friends, our beautiful country, and the freedom granted to each one of us by the Almighty.
During this holiday season, we think especially of our men and women of the armed forces, many of whom are spending Thanksgiving far from home. Last Thanksgiving, I had the privilege of meeting with our military serving in Baghdad area of Iraq. Those men and women, like all who wear our nation's uniform, have volunteered to serve. Through their courage and skill and sacrifice they are keeping our country safe and free. America is proud of our military. We're proud of our military families. And we gave them our thanks every day of the year.
The National Thanksgiving Turkey will soon be on stage for all to see, but he's not going to end up on the table. I'm granting him a Presidential Pardon. Not only will I grant the pardon to Biscuits, I will also grant one to Gravy, as well. I wish them well as they begin their new life at Frying Pan Park in the great state of Virginia.
Laura and I and the Vice President wish every American a happy Thanksgiving. May God bless you all, and may God continue to bless our country.