WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – President Joe Biden participated in the annual tradition of The National Thanksgiving Turkey Pardon on his 81st birthday at the White House Monday. The President kicked off the unofficial start to the holiday season during an event on the South Lawn where he pardoned two turkeys, named Liberty and Bell.

The 42-pound male turkeys are named for the famous Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They were hatched and bred in Willmar, Minnesota, by the Jennie-O turkey company.  

“Now just to get here Liberty and Bell had to beat some tough odds, the competition. They had to work hard to show patience and be willing to travel over 1,000 miles,” said President Biden.

Liberty and Bell checked into a suite at the Willard Intercontinental on Saturday, after making the journey from Minnesota to Washington, D.C. Now that the two turkeys have been pardoned, they will return to their home state to be cared for by the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences.

The President took a moment during the event to remember former first lady Rosalynn Carter, who died on Sunday at the age of 96.

“This week, we’ll gather with the people we love and the traditions that each of us have built up in our own families. We’ll also think about the loved ones we lost, including just yesterday when we lost former first lady Rosalynn Carter, who walked her own path, inspiring a nation and the world along the way,” remarked the President.

Today marks the 76th anniversary of the turkey tradition. It started in 1947 when the National Turkey Federation first presented a National Thanksgiving Turkey to President Harry Truman.

President Joe Biden has pardoned three pairs of turkeys since taking office. The President and First Lady are expected to leave for Nantucket, Massachusetts tomorrow for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.