National Turkey Federation Chairman John Reicks presented the National Thanksgiving Turkey to President Barack Obama during a ceremony at the White House prior to the holiday. Presentation of the turkey, named “Tot,” marked the 69th anniversary of the presentation of the National Thanksgiving Turkey in celebration of the uniquely American holiday.
“Thanksgiving is also a reminder of the source of our national strength,” said President Obama. “That out of many we are one, that we are bound not by any one race or religion, but rather by an adherence to a common creed that all of us are created equal. And while accepting our differences and building a diverse society has never been easy, it has never been more important. We are people that look out for one another and get each other’s backs. We keep moving forward, defined by values and ideals that have been a light to all humanity.”
“I’m very appreciative of the President’s words and his sharing the presentation of the National Thanksgiving Turkey as a focus of thanks, as well as a lighthearted moment of pardoning in the spirit of the warmth and fun of the holidays,” Reicks said.
Reicks’ wife Nelda and their families also joined President Obama at the White House for the annual presentation.
In keeping with custom, the president “pardoned” the National Thanksgiving Turkey, “Tot”, and its alternate, “Tater.” Iowa school children suggested names for consideration. Both birds were raised under Reicks’ direction at the northwest Iowa farm of Chris and Nicole Domino.
The two turkeys arrived in Washington, D.C. with an overnight stay at the Willard InterContinental, adjacent to the White House. Costs for lodging the guests and the turkeys are always paid for by the National Turkey Federation.
The National Thanksgiving Turkey and alternate will reside at “Gobbler’s Rest,” on the campus of Virginia Tech in a newly built enclosure located inside the Poultry Science Department’s Livestock Judging Pavilion. The National Thanksgiving Turkey and its alternate will be available for the public to visit and learn about the university’s teaching, research, and outreach programs in animal and poultry sciences and veterinary medicine.
The National Turkey Federation also presented two dressed turkeys for the First Family to donate to the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, D.C.