Riley addresses inaugural crowd
Published 3:24 am Wednesday, January 17, 2007
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is a transcript of the speech given by Gov. Bob Riley during inauguration ceremonies held Monday in Montgomery:
Four years ago, I stood before you as the Governor of Alabama on this very site where, under the watchful eye of this Capitol, our state story has been written. It was on these very streets where the Civil War was fought and the Civil Rights Movement was born. Where we have mourned our fallen, celebrated our traditions and seen the winds of change sweep an entire nation up in the struggle for equality. And it is here that governors before me and governors after me take a most sacred oath. A covenant between the people of Alabama and the one entrusted to lead them, protect them and promote them. To stand here in the presence of such history and such promise and accept the mantle of responsibility that has once again been granted to me is a humbling honor, and I thank you sincerely for it.
Four years ago, I spoke to you of a new beginning, a new day for the state we love. And now, we can look back and be encouraged by what we've accomplished together. For all the differences in our politics and priorities, we united as Alabamians to reshape our destiny. We took a state government mired in historic deficits and made it financially sound. An economy that was lagging behind other states now ranks at the top of virtually every list and it is the envy of every state in the union. We put billions more into the classrooms because the greatest investment we can ever make is in the minds of our next generation, and now test scores are showing dramatic improvement. We joined together - reaching across the aisle and across branches of government - to deliver the first income tax cuts and the first sales tax holiday in this state's history. But perhaps most importantly, we transformed state government and made it more open, more accountable and guided by one principle: to do what's best for the people of Alabama. This administration and my Cabinet, of whom I am so proud, now mirrors in attitude, accomplishment and honesty the very people it serves.
Four years ago, I stood on this same site. Yet today, I stand in a very different state. Alabama has changed and changed for the better. No one person has accomplished these things alone. All of this has been achieved because we worked together - not as Republicans and Democrats - but as Alabamians who believe in the promise of our great state. Today, I want to extend my congratulations to Lieutenant Governor Folsom, President Pro Tem Mitchem and Speaker Hammett. All of you have assured me that our proposals will receive a fair and full hearing before the Legislature. Gentlemen, I thank you for that commitment and I pledge to work with each of you to keep moving Alabama forward.
It has been said that if you believe you can, you are probably right, and if you believe you can't, you most certainly are. In my first inaugural address, I asked the people of Alabama to join me in a new mission. I asked each of you to believe in yourselves individually and to believe in ourselves as a state. And I implored you to believe - not that we could do it, but that we would do it.
We had to decide once and for all that the possibility of greatness was simply inadequate. For ourselves and for our children we wanted - no, we demanded and we expected -
greatness. No longer did we have the luxury to hope for possibilities, to wish for vague and innocuous success, or to walk away from challenges we thought were insurmountable. It was time to expect achievement and demand excellence with a collective and unshakeable confidence that it would happen. And then, it did.
Of course, we still have problems. No state, no nation ever progressed and succeeded without challenge. But I believe there is a courage running through our people that makes us strong enough to face the tests that lie ahead. Courage beats in the hearts of every one of our workers as they pass through a factory gate.
It is in the farmers who feed us, in those who patrol our highways and neighborhoods. It's in the men and women who teach our children, who care for the sick and injured and nourish our spirit in houses of worship.
Courage is in our entrepreneurs who believe so much in themselves and in our workers that they start new businesses that create jobs and opportunities. And it's found in every mom and dad. They get up every morning, get the kids ready for school, and go to work - many times at more than one job. They do this so they can support their families and fulfill the dream that their children and their grandchildren will have better, more secure lives.
But nowhere does courage shine more brilliantly and brightly than it does in the thousands of men and women in uniform who serve our nation in war and in peace. And today let there be no mistake: Alabama stands behind and fully supports our troops as they fight to protect us from the enemies of freedom.
You see, friends, courage is quite common in Alabama. Now, it is up to the elected leaders of this state to have the same type of extraordinary courage found in our citizens.
I believe we do have the courage to squarely confront any challenge, put aside politics and do what's right. I believe we have the determination to provide educational excellence at every level so our children can compete and win the jobs of the future. And we must believe that we can summon the integrity to make all areas of government work to serve the people's interest and not the special interests.
I believe we have the resolve to overcome the partisan divides and move Alabama forward through bipartisan leadership - leadership that produces achievements and not obstructionism.
I believe all this because I believe in Alabama - in her goodness, her character and, most of all, I believe in her people.
Four years ago, I spoke of a new day in Alabama. That dawn has arrived. Yet, just as God in His wisdom designed, the sun's light is not brightest at the dawn. No, as time progresses it glows brighter and more brilliant with each passing moment. So, too, will this state.
When history writes our story, may it be said of each of us that new day began an era of renewed pride, progress and prosperity unlike any before.
My fellow Alabamians, we are mindful of our history - our victories and defeats, our accomplishments and mistakes - but we are not chained by it. It is our foundation, not our ceiling. Most assuredly, these are remarkable days. The most remarkable days our state has ever known. Yet, these days are only a glimmer of the greatness yet to come.
As I've said before, the morals and values that made this the greatest nation on earth - values that others may have forgotten - remain steadfast in the hearts of Alabamians. And nothing means more to me than when someone walks up to me, pulls me aside and says, “Governor, I'm praying for you.” I always tell them, “Please don't stop” because I can feel those prayers. I thank you for your prayers and I humbly ask that you continue them.
Proverbs 19:21 says “many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.” In my first act as Governor, I asked God for His intervention, guidance and protection in the days ahead. Today, I ask Him for those once again: to continue the plans in our hearts, the innovation in our minds and the determination of our collective soul. But most importantly, I ask that this state serve whatever purpose God has designed for us all.
May God continue to bless America and this great state of Alabama.