Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


The Official Baldrige Blog

A Time for All of Us to "Pardon the Turkey"

Thanksgiving Turkey

Once again this Thanksgiving, the President carried out the ritual of pardoning the White House turkey.  It caused me to wonder about the history behind this annual ritual. As I soon learned, the practice was formally instituted by President George H.W. Bush in 1989. The ritual is intended to draw upon the ideas and ceremonies that encourage forgiveness, as practiced in many of the world's religions. The value of such  rituals is to periodically reaffirm a social group's identity through the exercise of collective values, according to late 19th century sociologist Emile Durkheim.

Putting this practice into current day terminology, I would assert that the intent is to exercise and emphasize a society's espoused set of core values. Thinking of the Baldrige Core Values and Concepts, I believe they also fit as societal values for all of us. At this time of year (and important all year long), I particularly think of valuing people, societal responsibility, and ethics and transparency.

As we close out the year and look to holidays that celebrate the spirit of goodness in all of us, I will reflect on my focus on the three core values I mentioned. It is a time to reflect and re-energize my focus on valuing the people close to me, those I come into contact with, and those in need of help. It is a time to rethink our own commitments to society and social responsibility, and to reflect on our behavior during the past year. Have we treated all people ethically? Is there some change we want to make? Are there any missteps for which we should make amends and seek forgiveness? And are there people who we perceive may have treated us less than fairly, whose needs we should better understand?

At this time of year, should we pardon those who we believe have not treated us as well as we would like and should we seek pardon from those we have not always treated with the most respect and kindness?

Let's follow the American ritual and reaffirm our societal values through our personal actions.

I wish everyone a joyous, thoughtful, and peaceful holiday season!

About the author

Harry Hertz “The Baldrige Cheermudgeon”

I am Harry Hertz, the Baldrige Cheermudgeon, and Director Emeritus of the Baldrige Program. I joined the Program in 1992 after a decade in management in the analytical chemistry and chemical sciences laboratories at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the home of the Baldrige Program. I started my career at NIST (NBS) as a bench analytical chemist.

My favorite aspects of the Baldrige Program are: (1) the opportunity to interact with leading thinkers from all sectors of the U.S. economy who serve as volunteers in the Baldrige Program, who participate in the Baldrige Executive Fellows Program, and who represent Award applicants at the forefront of the continuous journey to performance excellence, and (2) the intellectual challenge of synthesizing ideas from leading thinkers and from personal research into Insights on the Road to Performance Excellence and other blogs that tackle challenges at the “leading edge of validated leadership and performance practice,” and contribute to the continuous revision of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Framework.

Outside of work I spend my time with family (including three beautiful granddaughters), exercising, baking bread, traveling, educating tomorrow’s leaders, and participating on various boards and board committees.

Related posts


Excellent and thanks for the thoughts from the heart. I reposted on my facebook timeline to spread the wisdom especially with all the human interactions in 2016. Appreciate it and have a wonderful holiday season and blessings for a New Year.
Harry, Another thoughtful and extremely timely piece. I also have shared it on my Facebook page. I feel better having read it. Thanks.

Add new comment

Enter the characters shown in the image.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Please be respectful when posting comments. We will post all comments without editing as long as they are appropriate for a public, family friendly website, are on topic and do not contain profanity, personal attacks, misleading or false information/accusations or promote specific commercial products, services or organizations. Comments that violate our comment policy or include links to non-government organizations/web pages will not be posted.