At a ceremony in the Rose Garden, the president spared the life of Jerry, a 45-pound tom turkey from Barron, Wisconsin. Instead of the Thanksgiving table, the bird will go to a petting farm in suburban Virginia.
Harry Truman began the tradition of pardoning a Thanksgiving turkey -- and it's been followed by presidents ever since.
Mr. Clinton told reporters that on this year's holiday, he and his family will give thanks for the chance to live in the White House and serve the nation for eight years.
The president said the origins of Thanksgiving are in some dispute. He said the first Thanksgiving may have been as early as 1513, when Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon landed in Florida. Tradition has it that the first feast was hosted by Pilgrims and American Indians, in the 1620s in Plymouth, Mass.
The experts are divided, Mr. Clinton said, with tongue firmly in cheek, and a recount is under way.
Mr.Clinton will celebrate the holiday with his wife and daughter at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.
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