FFA members with Liberty at the W hotel (credit: Obama Foodorama blog)
A night in a posh Washington D.C. hotel, two major media appearances and then a meeting with the sitting president of the United States in the North Portico of the White House? Certainly, that’s a gathering of events that would make a pretty outstanding experience for many.
This week, per tradition, two Minnesota-raised turkeys received that presidential treatment — along with the four Minnesota FFA members who helped raise them.
As part of the 2011 Presidential Turkey Pardon, “Liberty” and his alternate feathered friend “Peace” were saved from the fate that many of their turkey brethen face during the holiday season when President Barack Obama officially pardoned them during a Wednesday morning event.
It was the 64th time an event commorating turkeys had been held at the White House, and 24 turkeys have now been given a presidential pardon.
“(Thanksgiving) is one of the best days of the year to be an American,” Obama said. “It is a day to count are blessings, spend time with the ones we love, and enjoy some good food in great company. But it’s also one of the worst days to be a turkey. They don’t have it so good.”
Liberty and Peace were selected as the best-behaved from a flock turkeys from Willmar, Minn., and were raised by FFA members Brianna Hoover, Brenna Ahlquist, Val Brown and Preston Asche from Willmar High School.
National Turkey Federation Chairman Richard Huisinga, an executive with the local Willmar Poultry Company, assisted the effort and presented Liberty to President Obama. Meanwhile, Peace stood off to the side as the alternate in case Liberty couldn’t handle the fanfare.
“Liberty was chosen from a flock of about 30 other contestants for the honor of being here today,” Obama said. “And for the first time in history, these two turkeys were raised by four students from nearby Willmar High School.”