Saturday, January 16, 2010

McDonnell's Inaugural Address

Thank you.

Mr. Speaker.

Lt. Governor Bolling.

Attorney General Cuccinelli.

Members of the General Assembly.

Distinguished guests from around the world and across the country, family and friends, my fellow Virginians.

Good afternoon!

We gather today on the steps of our magnificent and newly renovated State Capitol.

From this hill the land rolls gently down to the James River, the waterway of the Settlers in 1607.

From this place, the sweep of history has moved us forward to today.

This is the cradle of democracy for Virginia and America.

Governor Thomas Jefferson designed this Capitol building.

Governor Patrick Henry came here for the laying of its cornerstone.

I am humbled today to follow in their historic footsteps.

The General Assembly first convened in this new building during the first term of America's first President, Virginia's George Washington.

Behind me, in the Rotunda, are the busts of the eight Virginians who became President.

It was here that Robert E. Lee, the son of a Virginia Governor, was commissioned as Commander of the Commonwealth's military forces as a young nation split into war.

It was here, just four years later, that President Abraham Lincoln came to begin the process of reuniting our war-torn nation, walking the streets of still smoldering Richmond.

And it was here, 125 years after Lincoln's visit that a grandson of slaves, L. Douglas Wilder, took the Oath of Office as the nation's first African-American Governor.

And it is here, today, that an average middle class kid from Fairfax County, a grandson of Irish immigrants, is given the enormous honor of becoming the 71st Governor of Virginia.

As it turns out, I succeed another descendent of Irish immigrants, Governor Timothy Kaine.

On behalf of the grateful people of Virginia, I thank Governor Kaine for his leadership and service to our Commonwealth.

Today's Virginia is a thriving and diverse home of nearly 8 million people, with one in ten born outside the United States.

A state of rich history and strong people, we do face many challenges together.

We do not face the challenges of forming a new government or securing a young nation, as did Washington, Jefferson and Henry.

We do not encounter the devastation and destruction of Civil War, as did Lincoln and Lee.

We do not struggle with the injustice of slavery and its legacy of segregation as did Governor Wilder as a young man.

We do not march into bullets and artillery shells, as did the Greatest Generation on the beaches of Normandy and the islands of the Pacific. Two members of that generation, who served in World War II, my father Jack McDonnell and my father-in-law Frank Gardner, join us here today.

On behalf of a grateful Commonwealth I thank them, and all military members and veterans, for their incredible sacrifice and service to our nation that continues today.

The actions of those patriots that came before us had a common purpose to create and expand freedom and opportunity for the generations that came behind them.

The creation of, and desire for, new opportunity has shaped Virginia from its foundation.

It was in seeking the Opportunity of a New World that Captain John Smith and 104 settlers braved the perilous Atlantic to step onto the sands of Cape Henry in April 1607.

It was in securing the Opportunity of a New Nation that Virginia patriots joined together with their fellow colonists in the first fight for freedom and independence, and thus was born a country of ordered liberty that, 234 years later, is the beacon of hope for the world.

It was in seizing the Opportunity of equality and education that a courageous 16 year-old girl named Barbara Johns, memorialized behind this majestic Capitol at the Virginia Civil Rights Memorial, stood up and walked out of Moton High School in Farmville 59 years ago this spring.

New opportunity helped them meet the challenges of their time.

Greater opportunity will help us meet the challenges of ours.

Together we must create jobs and economic opportunities.

Provide new educational opportunities for all Virginians.

And enhance family and community opportunities by easing government burdens on free people.

As Virginians, we believe that government must help foster a society in which all our people can use their God-given talents in liberty to pursue the American Dream.

Where opportunity is absent, we must create it. Where opportunity is limited, we must expand it. Where opportunity is unequal, we must make it open to everyone.

Read the entire speech here.
UPDATE: McDonnell signs two Executive Orders in the hours after his Inauguration.
– Executive Order Number One: Establishing the Chief Job Creation Officer and the Governor’s Economic Development and Job Creation Commission

- Executive Order Number Two: Establishing the Governor’s Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring
Read details at Virginia Virtucon

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