Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Virginia Officially Turns Red with McDonnell

Listen to audio version here

Saturday marked the inauguration of the 71st Virginia Governor, Bob McDonnell. With performances by the Colonial Williamsburg Fife and Drum Corps, the 29th Division Band, and the Hampton University Choir, the inauguration kicked off at noon Saturday. McDonnell’s speech was filled with inspiration, history, and what is still left to overcome in the great state of Virginia.

Governor Tim Kaine, a Democrat, relinquished his title as governor before the Governor-elect Bob McDonnell, along with Attorney General-elect Ken Cuccinelli, and Lieutenant Governor-elect Bill Bolling all took the Oath of Office. Now, all three statewide elected officials are Republican.

The ceremony included the National Anthem sung by McDonnell’s daughter Jeanine, a performance of America the Beautiful by Millie Harris, and the 29th Division Band. After the swearing in ceremonies, the Virginia Army National Guard did a 19 gun salute, followed by a fighter jet fly over the Capitol.

With his wife by his side, clutching her hand tightly.

McDonnell focused his inauguration theme, “A Commonwealth of Opportunity”.

“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. Our Administration will be dedicated to building "A Commonwealth of Opportunity" for all Virginians.”

McDonnell’s address focused on improving the economy, creating jobs and making Virginia the energy capital of the East Coast.

“We will make Virginia the "Energy Capital of the East Coast." By growing the natural gas and coal industries, expanding the use of nuclear power, and promoting new energy technologies like wind, solar and biomass. And we will champion environmentally-safe offshore energy exploration and production, bringing with it thousands of new jobs, hundreds of millions in new state revenue and billions in new investment.”

Scott Clemens of Stafford, who works for the United States Department of Energy, came to the inauguration to see his daughter march in the parade. Clemens said he especially connected with McDonnell’s words about energy.

“Being with the department I was really impressed with his look towards energy confidence of the future,” said Clemens. “Potential expanding our nuclear power generation and especially our coal and coal mining of the state.”

Many people who attended of the inauguration felt they were experiencing a piece of history. Celeste Inglehart of Northern Virginia found the event inspiring.

“The people…how well they responded,” said Inglehart. “The whole build up of the new governor, it was so special, it was so wonderful.”

Carly Tate of Mechanicsville, who is only 13 came out to the inauguration to be a part of history.

“It’s like making history, so I’d like to be there for it,” said Tate.

For the future of Virginia, like Tate, McDonnell’s discussion of education in Saturday’s speech might end up directly affecting them. He focused on funding and making room for more money in the classroom.

“And let us recognize that a high school degree is no longer the finish line in a global economy. We must create affordable new pathways to earning a college degree and make a commitment to confer 100,000 additional degrees over the next 15 years.”

McDonnell’s inaugural address was followed by a parade of 47 different organizations. They ranged from Girl Scouts to the Virginia Military Institutes Cadets, along with re-enactors of George Washington, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson.

Marching bands marched from all of the state from different high schools and universities, making it a grand affair.

As the parade ended, people gathered around the podium where McDonnell stood to shake hands and answer questions, leaving a sense of hope for Virginians.

“It was George Washington who noted, in his first Inaugural Address, "The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected to remain on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained." It is right to help one another. It is right to work together to get results and solve problems. It is right to provide opportunities for all.”

-Laura Peters

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