Welcome to the Rose Garden on this lovely day. Mr. Wickliffe, my old friend Peter, and everybody else, I just want to thank you for joining me as I participate for the first time in a tradition as old as the American Presidency: the signing of the annual Thanksgiving Day proclamation.
Two hundred years ago, George Washington signed the original proclamation for a day of thanksgiving: a day of thanks for the bounty we enjoy -- [laughter] -- and, above all, for the blessings of freedom. And that's why I'm so pleased to welcome the young Americans and recent newcomers to our country who are here today. [Laughter] Like every American -- come on, this is serious stuff -- [laughter] -- you, too, are descendants of the first Pilgrims united by a love of liberty. And this year, especially, as that yearning for freedom inspires millions around the world, giving thanks for the freedoms we enjoy takes on a special meaning.
That brings me to another traditional moment involving our special guest over here today -- the guy in the cage there, who seems understandably nervous. [Laughter] It is my great privilege to receive the traditional Thanksgiving turkey. Millie has been put upstairs, looking wistfully out of the window, I'm sure. But let me assure you, and this fine tom turkey, that he will not end up on anyone's dinner table, not this guy -- he's granted a Presidential pardon as of right now -- and allow him to live out his days on a children's farm not far from here.
And finally, let me ask all of you to remember another American tradition. Let this holiday time spent with family and friends remind us that helping others less fortunate than ourselves may be the best way we have of giving thanks.
And so, thank you all for coming. God bless you, and may the whole country have a very, very happy Thanksgiving.
And now I will sign the proclamation.
Note: The President spoke at 11:56 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Peter P. Stewart, chairman of the National Thanksgiving Commission, and John Wickliffe, president of the National Turkey Federation. The proclamation is listed in Appendix E at the end of this volume.