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Opinion: Luckiest Turkeys on Earth Prepare for Obama Pardon

By AJ Karolczak

CHICAGO (CBS) — This Thanksgiving, one lucky turkey is getting ready for a big trip – and not to the dinner table. Tom One, a native of a Modesto, California farm, has been chosen as the turkey to be pardoned by President Obama next week.

The President will grant the feathered friend an official pardon, clearing him from ever becoming Thanksgiving dinner.

Tom One was chosen from a flock of turkeys specially bred for the annual pardoning event. He will be traveling with a second turkey as well, named Tom Two, who will also be pardoned by the president.

The birds' current names come from recommendations made by California students. The White House will give them official names.

The fortunate pair will be transported on a special United Airlines flight from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., nicknamed "Turkey One."

To determine which turkeys will be pardoned, the flock had to undergo a series of evaluations. Ultimately, Tom One won over the crowd and the judges with his personality.

Joe Hedden, manager of the farm from which they were chosen, told the Associated Press, "We want to present the president with a well-mannered and socially skilled turkey that's going to act right on the big day."

The yearly tradition, though all in good fun, requires some special preparations. The turkeys are trained to be around bright lights and crowds. They are acclimated to loud noises by listening to music.

Hedden said this year's turkeys have a preference for country music and gobble when the radio is tuned to a country music station.

While they are being transported, the lucky gobblers will be accompanied by mock secret service agents.

The new celebrity turkeys also have their own Twitter account, @PrezTurkey.

It's unclear how far back the pardoning of the feathered birds goes. Some say President Lincoln spared a turkey that was originally going to be Christmas dinner, but his son became attached to it.

Presidents Truman, Kennedy, and Nixon were all offered turkeys as well. But the first official pardoning came from President Reagan in 1987. Reagan sent a turkey named Charlie to a petting zoo. President George H.W. Bush made the event an annual tradition starting in 1989.

After their meeting with President Obama, Tom One and Tom Two will get the chance to live the rest of their lives, peacefully, at a Virginia farm.

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