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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

President George W. Bush Honors Thanksgiving

Aired November 19, 2001 - 13:48   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Presidents have all kinds of responsibilities. They have to wage wars and at Thanksgiving time, they also pay homage to some traditions.

And that's what President Bush is doing right now at the White House.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good afternoon and welcome to the White House.

I am not going to speak too long because our guest of honor looks a little nervous. Nobody has told him yet that I'm going to give him a pardon. We're especially glad that so many of the young could come today. Thank you all for being here. In a few moments, you can come up and pet the turkey if you want to.

Nick Weaver and Stewart Procter (ph) of the National Turkey Foundation are here, and I want to thank you for being here. I'm honored you are here.

Actually, you probably don't know this, but there were two turkeys brought to Washington for this occasion. By custom, an alternate is always on hand to fill in if needed. This one right here, his name is Liberty. And the other turkey, the alternate, his name is Freedom.

And Freedom is not here because he is in a secure and undisclosed location.

(LAUGHTER)

This White House tradition dates back to Abraham Lincoln. Probably what you don't know is that Abraham Lincoln had a son named Ted who kept a turkey as a pet.

I thought about trying to keep a turkey as a pet, but I don't think the two dogs and the cat would like it.

(LAUGHTER)

From our very beginnings, gratitude has been a part of our national character. Through the generations, our country has known its share of hardships. We've been through some tough times, some testing moments during the last months, yet we've never lost sight of the blessings around us: the freedoms we enjoy; the people we love; and the many gifts of our prosperous land.

On this holiday, we give thanks for our many blessings and for life itself.

Thanksgiving reminds us that the greatest gifts don't come from the hands of man but from the maker of heaven and earth. This week, American families will gather in that spirit.

We will remember, too, those who approach the holidays with a burden of sadness. We think especially of families that recently lost loved ones and of our men and women in the armed forces serving far away from home.

This is a nation of many faiths, and this holiday season, we'll all be joined in prayer that those who mourn will find comfort, that those in dangers will find protection and that God will continue to watch over the land we love.

And I have the duty of ending the suspense of our feathery guest. For this turkey and his travelling companion, this will not be their last Thanksgiving. They will live out their days in the comfort and care of Kidwell Farm of Herndon, Virginia. By virtue of an unconditional presidential pardon, they are safe from harm.

May God continue to bless America, and I hope everybody has a happy Thanksgiving.

Thank you for coming.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: Let's go over and see this bird.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

BUSH: Well, here we are at the White House.

(LAUGHTER)

BUSH: All in a day's work.

(LAUGHTER)

WOODRUFF: President Bush gingerly patting the turkey named Liberty there in the Rose Garden. Looks like a crowd of some young people there, along with their parents, perhaps. This is part of the tradition every year at Thanksgiving. The president pardons one turkey, but President Bush disclosed that there is another turkey who comes along just in case the other turkey, he said -- with I guess about a -- vice president Dick Cheney who has been out of sight for some days since September 11. He said the other turkey named Freedom is in a secure and undisclosed location.

The president thanking -- reminding Americans that in this Thanksgiving week, we have much to be thankful for and also remembering the many Americans who have lost loved ones on September the 11th or in last week's plane crash and remembering those families who have family members over in Afghanistan fighting the war in central Asia.

This is Thanksgiving week and, as the president said, these turkeys who were pardoned today and who won't suffer the fate of many other turkeys, will go to a farm in Herndon, Virginia, not too far from Washington.

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