Thanksgiving turkey pardon: When one mom told Bush to pardon a pig
Thanksgiving turkey was not the authentic original dinner. And when a mom debunked the idea, she came literally head to head with President Bush trying to set the record straight and get a pig pardoned instead of a turkey.
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We were invited and given a row for our family to see him speak.Skip to next paragraph
Lisa Suhay, who has four sons at home in Norfolk, Va., is a children’s book author and founder of the Norfolk (Va.) Initiative for Chess Excellence (NICE) , a nonprofit organization serving at-risk youth via mentoring and teaching the game of chess for critical thinking and life strategies.
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Stepping off Marine One, his assistant came through the crowd and handed me an envelope from the president with a letter to the pig, thanking her and everyone for bringing the historical information to his attention. The kids, who were with me, were deeply impressed... with the helicopter.
Afterward, the boys and I went up and met the president. I thanked him for coming but said the kids were sad he was not publicly pardoning Ginny.
“Ginny? Ginny?” the President momentarily puzzled. Then he beamed a huge grin, hooted a laugh and shouted, “Oh, the pig! I loved that!” Secret Service swarmed us as the President held my hand up in a victory salute and then took me by the shoulders and thunked his forehead to mine several times in rapid succession.
As we walked away, Ian could not contain himself and stopped every single person in our path to announce, “My mom was head-butted by THE PRESIDENT!”
Again, we were suddenly awash in Secret Service as an agent bent double to young Ian, then age 12, and said, “Son. That was not a head-butt. That was the ‘Presidential forehead touch.' He does that with people he really likes.” Ian nodded mutely but, once out of earshot, continued to spread the unvarnished word.
If you’re wondering how the history got lost in the first place, the turkey became America’s urban holiday dinner legend because the winning side tends to write – or in this case, re-write – the history books. Shortly after the Civil War, Lincoln was looking for some way to reunify a nation that had just suffered a Civil War and secession attempt. Pause to reflect on how history repeats itself.
A New England author, keen to celebrate her state, was on a mission to create a holiday commemorating the Pilgrims and what she believed to be the nation’s first day of thanksgiving. Although it was pointed out at the time that Virginia was the first, it would not do to reward a southern state that had been disloyal to the union. So it became a Pilgrim feast.
I am going to mention here, for President Barack Obama to take note since history seems to be repeating itself, that maybe this year, he might consider adding a small pig to the pardon in the Rose Garden?
In the end, however, we all fell in love with Ginny the pig, have met many turkeys along the way as we visited farms and petting zoos and so, ever after, have had a smorgasbord Thanksgiving that is largely vegetarian.
I will say now what I said then: As fun and frivolous as a turkey or pig pardon by the president may seem, this act of mercy in time of strife serves to remind Americans that no matter what their political opinions or issues, they are still thankful to be one nation, giving thanks to a higher power, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
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