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President Obama pardons the Thanksgiving turkey

By Aimee Keane, Medill News Service
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President Obama pardons the Thanksgiving turkey
President Barack Obama pardons Cheese, the 2014 National Thanksgiving Turkey, as National Turkey Federation Chairman Gary Cooper (center) and his son Cole restrain it, during a ceremony at the White House on November 26, 2014 in Washington, D.C. Cheese and a turkey alternate named Mac, will be on display for visitors at their permanent home at Morven Park’s “Turkey Hill,” the historic turkey farm located at the home of former Virginia Governor Westmoreland Davis in Leesburg, Virginia. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- Of the 46 million birds the National Turkey Federation says will be consumed this Thanksgiving, two by the names of Mac and Cheese were spared Wednesday thanks to an executive action taken by President Barack Obama.

"I am here to announce what I'm sure will be the most talked about executive action this month," Obama said to a crowd in the entrance hall of the White House.

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According to the White House, President George H.W. Bush officially pardoned the first turkey in 1989, although presidents as far back as Abraham Lincoln have come face to face with the bird. Normally a ceremony held in the Rose Garden, Wednesday's event was forced indoors after Washington was hit with its first day of snow and hail this season.

The two male turkeys, along with their father-son farmer duo Gary and Cole Cooper, trekked from Cooper Farms in Fort Recovery, Ohio to be saved from what the president called a "terrible and delicious fate."

In an online contest, Cheese won the official title of National Thanksgiving Turkey, but tradition ensured Mac, as the alternate, was also spared.

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First daughters Sasha and Malia were at the president's side, though they kept their distance as Cheese received his official sign of the pardon.

"Let's face it," Obama said. "If you're a turkey, and you're named after a side dish, your chances of escaping Thanksgiving dinner are pretty low. These guys... really beat the odds."

The birds will be on display for visitors at their new permanent home in Leesburg, Va.

"I know some will call this amnesty," Obama said, "but don't worry, there's plenty of turkey to go around."

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